A few weeks ago, we welcomed principals, school staff and parents from 36 schools in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to our annual Principals’ Breakfast hosted by Parents United for Healthy Schools.
We were honored to welcome parents and principals that have been with us since our very first rally in 2006 when we successfully advocated for the district to adopt a strong wellness policy. We were also honored to welcome parents and principals who know our work through the Space to Grow and Fit to Learn programs. All of these Healthy Schools Campaign programs work toward one goal: making Chicago schools healthier places for all students.
We were also honored to welcome Dr. Ken Fox, CPS’ Chief Health Officer, to the Breakfast this year. He spoke about structural violence and how every child is important. “When I read in the paper, I read about the Unnecessary suffering of my patients, our children,” he says. “Whether it was unintended, or unattended or unwitnessed, these children are not unmourned or forgotten because no child is disposable. Structural violence is unnecessary and unacceptable on my watch.”
Many people might think that during these challenging fiscal times and the harsh budget realities facing the state, city and school district, that prioritizing healthy food, student health services, physical activity and the opportunity for children to connect with nature are luxuries we can’t afford. But that’s not the case. Working with schools, families and communities to support the physical and emotional needs of young people is more necessary than ever before.
Through these challenging and uncertain times, we applaud all principals, teachers and school staff for their leadership.
Principals and parents are natural allies because they both want children to be healthy and ready to learn. The work of principals and parents has helped bring recess back to CPS, championed Breakfast in the Classroom, advocated for healthier school food, pioneered the formation of wellness teams and collected signatures in support of daily physical education.
When principals, parents and the community work together, it’s truly incredible the strides we can make in ensuring schools are healthier places for all of our children to learn. The Principals’ Breakfast also serves as a starting point for the work ahead, and we’re looking forward to seeing what principals and parents can do this year to champion student health and wellness in schools.