This fall, we’re celebrating 10 years of Parents United for Healthy Schools. For the past decade, Parents United has been a leading force in creating healthy school environments through organized parent leadership. This parent-led movement advocates to create a better future for all Chicago children by working together with schools to create healthy environments that support student learning. In this blog series, we’re revisiting some of the successes and milestones of this movement.
Last week, we were proud to welcome 180 parents from all over the city of Chicago to the 10th Annual Parent Leadership Summit, a unique conference by parents, for parents focusing on providing resources and a knowledge base to create change in schools and communities all over the city. To have an auditorium full of engaged, passionate parents excited about creating change for healthier schools and eradicating childhood obesity was truly a testament to where the Parents United for Healthy Schools movement has come, and where we are headed.
The Summit is designed as a professional development opportunity for parents to introduce them to school wellness experts; strengthen knowledge and leadership skills; and strengthen their commitment to healthy students. After the Summit, parents bring new ideas and resources back to their schools and work hand-in-hand with principals, wellness champions, teachers and other parents to create a healthier school environment!
We were honored to welcome Dr. Ken Fox, Chief Health Officer, Chicago Public Schools; Julie Morita, M.D., Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health; and Dr. Janice K. Jackson, Chief Education Officer, Chicago Public Schools as speakers.
Parents split into small breakout groups to focus on specific areas such as school-based wellness teams, physical activity, the school meal program and much more. These smaller sessions allow parents to become an expert in a specific area and take that knowledge back to their schools.
At the end of the day, parents signed a pledge and dedicated themselves to being “healthy heroes.” By signing this pledge, parents promised to promote healthy eating and physical activity in their own homes and their children’s school to support their children’s learning and health of their families.
Since the first rally in 2006, Parents United has advocated for the return of recess, championed Breakfast in the Classroom, collected signatures in support of daily physical education and pioneered the parent-led school wellness team model.
Since 2006, Parents United has been at the forefront of ensuring that district wellness policies are enacted at each school. From stronger nutrition standards, to restrictions on junk food, to the return of daily recess and physical education, school health is improving. But there is still work to do! It’s been 10 years since we started this work, and there are many accomplishments to celebrate. We want to take this time to pause and reflect on what we’ve done, and re-energize ourselves to continue this important work.