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UAB Partnership Wins National Award For Effort to Fight Childhood Obesity
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Education and the Selma City Schools to fight childhood obesity has received an award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The partnership, called Selma Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness Study for Students (NEWS), received the USDA 2007 Award for Excellence in School Wellness Policy, Southeastern Region earlier this month during a statewide meeting of the Alabama Child Nutrition Program directors.
Former Selma schools Superintendent James Carter and faculty from the UAB School of Education’s Department of Human Studies created Selma NEWS to promote health among Selma City School students, faculty and staff through a series of nutrition, health and physical education programs. Brian F. Geiger, Ed.D., a UAB professor of health education, is the principal investigator for the project.
The USDA lauded Selma NEWS, the Selma Board of Education, interim Selma schools Superintendent Verdell Lett-Dawson and Child Nutrition Program Director Smyly Kirkpatrick for developing school policies that promote wellness. The policies included expanding the availability of healthy, a la carte menu options in schools, replacing unhealthy snacks and drinks in vending machines with more nutritious items, increasing the consumption of locally grown produce and selecting non-food alternatives for student fundraisers.
Selma NEWS also modified student recess to include movement activities, increased the amount of active time during physical education classes, developed alternative fitness activities for students with medical exemptions and sponsored family wellness day events and parent education workshops.
Alabama ranks second in the United States for obesity with between 26-29 percent of Alabamians being classified as obese.
In Dallas County, which includes the city of Selma, mortality rates for diabetes, stroke and heart disease exceeded the state and national rates between 1998 and 2000.