Saving Our Children

If current trends continue, 1 in 3 children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes. Can you imagine 1 in 3 of the kids who are presently in middle school developing this highly-preventable disease that can rob them of their vision, their tactile sensation, their limbs, their lives?

This is not a reality that I am willing to accept. As a mother and an advocate, I am proud to be a part of the team of dedicated staff at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) who work to derail this trend. Diabetes and hypertension are the leading causes of chronic kidney disease, accounting for about 75% of cases. Through our programmatic partnerships with schools, we are reaching children from the earliest ages possible to help them to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. Through hands-on learning and the simple messages of increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and non-fat or low-fat dairy; being physical active every day; and balancing calories in and calories out, children are gaining experience in eating better and moving more and are becoming the change agents within their families.

At present, NKFM offers programming at Bennett Elementary, Academy of the Americas, Dossin Elementary, Vernor Elementary, Bagley Elementary, Frank Murphy Elementary, Louis Pasteur Elementary, and Hutchins Elementary schools in Detroit. Through our partnerships with all of these schools, our staff, volunteers, and/or community partners come into the classrooms and educate the students on good health behaviors. Some of our schools take the partnership a step further and make systems changes by adopting school policies for healthy birthday celebrations, creating gardens, placing greater emphasis on physical activity, and more.

In these pictures, we see students at the Academy of the Americas participating in an assembly through our PE-Nut program, which is a whole-school approach to motivate students, parents and educators to be physically active and eat healthier. During the Scrubbadubbaveggiethinkersizing assembly put on by staff from St. Joseph Mercy Health System, the kids played games, ran races, got up and jumped around, and answered questions about healthy nutrition, physical activity, care for their bodies and brains, and hand washing.

If you are interested in learning more about the host of programs offered at various grade levels by the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, please feel free to contact me at rkaleniecki@nkfm.org. I would welcome the opportunity to work with you to bring our programs to more children in Detroit.

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