Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Is This a Million Dollar Idea, Already Done, or a Dud?

As I was driving home yesterday following the taping of my monthly radio column with CBC's Ottawa morning I was wondering - would parents enroll children in schools where health was their focus of excellence?

Certainly there's precedence for parents paying more for schools known to be exceptional at things like drama, football, languages, University prep - parents pay more for these institutions because they want to give their kids a leg up on life. Are there schools out there with a health focus and is there anything that would give kids more of an up leg than health?

Given how far society has strayed from health, especially with our children, I can't help but imagine that a school which along with the provision of academic excellence made healthy living their exceptional focus would in fact be a great draw. And I want to explicitly note I'm not suggesting this school be established, designed or promoted with childhood obesity in mind or as a target as the lessons to be taught and the layout of the school day would benefit kids of all shapes and sizes.

So what would this school look like? Off the top of my head it would include a whole gamut of healthy living lessons, behaviours and choices. From from farm to table cafeteria meals, to involving kids in cooking (including for the school), to cultivating their own community/school garden, to standing desks (at least for some subjects), to actually healthy breakfast and lunch programs (proven to improve behaviour and concentration), to frequent and healthy snack and activity breaks (also proven to improve learning), to a focus on sport that includes both competitive and non-competitive activity outlets and programs, to actually useful and valuable nutrition and cooking classes, to a focus on the role of healthy living in primary disease prevention, and ideally take place on a campus that was not and could not be within walking distance of corner stores and fast food establishments.

Does such a school already exist? If one existed in your neck of the woods, would you consider sending your kids there?