Experts Urge Focus on Healthy Summer Habits for KY Kids
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
As Kentucky students head into the unofficial start of summer this weekend, children's advocates are urging families to prioritize physical activity, practice healthy eating, stay up to date on vaccines and find positive ways to manage stress and emotions.
Ben Chandler, chief executive of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said the group's statewide campaign, called "High Five for Health," is aimed at ensuring kids are equipped to get back to learning in the fall.
"High Five for Health is a prescription for whole body and mind health," he said, "and we think that if young people follow this prescription, they're much more likely to have a successful school year. And ultimately, that leads on down the line to a successful life."
Chandler urged parents to get summer doctors' appointments scheduled for their children, for wellness visits and vaccination updates before school starts in August. According to state data, 23% of children ages 5 to 11 and almost half of kids ages 12 to 15 have received a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Jim Tackett, Healthy Schools Project director at the Kentucky Department of Education, which funded the campaign, said he hopes families have honest conversations in the coming weeks about how they can stay active and engaged this summer, and shrink the number of hours spent in front of screens.
"Continue to start those conversations," he said. "Continue to explore new behaviors that will set them on course to have a successful school year starting in August."
Research has shown that among adolescents, even moderate screen time is associated with lower psychological well-being. And heavy use is linked to worsened mental health, poor sleep, increased behavioral problems and decreased academic performance.
Data on youth mental-health threats during pandemic Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 3/31/2022
Associations between screen time and lower psychological well-being among children and adolescents: Evidence from a population-based study National Library of Medicine 12/12/2018
Screen time and early adolescent mental health, academic, and social outcomes in 9- and 10- year old children PLOS 9/8/2021
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