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Chicago Hosts Kick-off for Minority Health Month

On April 4th I had the opportunity to join Illinois’ Senator Dick Durbin, the President and First Lady’s personal trainer and member of President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition Cornell McClellan and staff from USDA, the Department of Health and Human Services, Chicago Public Schools and Healthy Schools Campaign to kick off Minority Health Month.

Since schools offer an opportunity—and obligation—to promote and model good nutrition and physical fitness, Chicago’s McAuliffe Elementary was selected as the setting for the event.

McAuliffe Elementary School students shared how their lives and health had been positively affected by changes made by their school to improve the nutrition of school meals and to increase physical activity.

And why was the school—and Chicago—chosen for the kick-off and a week’s worth of events which ranged from having chefs visit classrooms to a forum to discuss health disparities? The answer is both straightforward and multi-faceted.

The Chicago model involves a wide swath of community organizations and institutions—from the locally-based national organization Healthy Schools Campaign to volunteers such as the Second City’s Chef Lovely who appeared on the Fox TV Network’s Hell’s Kitchen. The diverse array of partners collaborates to help improve the nutrition and fitness of Chicago’s children—and it is realizing success.

To celebrate the city’s success and to encourage more progress, event speakers lauded parents, teachers, principals, local government officials, Chicago Public Schools and community organizations who collaborate to effect positive change—and then moved to the gymnasium where Cornell McClellan got students moving as part of the First Lady’s Let's Move! effort.

I was honored and pleased to participate in such an event, but I enjoyed even more hearing about and seeing the success Chicago is realizing in improving its school meals and the physical fitness of its children through its Go for the Gold Campaign and USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).

As the kick-off of Minority Health Month demonstrated, when it comes to combining forces to improve school meals and the health of children, the Second City’s efforts are second to none.

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