Healthy Children Today, Better Workforce Tomorrow

Dallas may not have won the bid for Amazon HQ2, but business and community leaders are already learning and looking ahead to prepare North Texas for the next opportunity. We have much to offer, including a thriving economy, relatively low cost of living, and plenty of available real estate, but our people are always our greatest asset.

We must ensure that we are building the workforce of the future – one that is highly skilled and productive.

The solution lies with the health and wellness of our children. The Cooper Institute and Dallas ISD are meeting that challenge on all fronts.

Healthy, active families make for a healthy, active society. Habits form early and can have long-reaching effects. It’s science. That’s why Dallas ISD wellness initiatives are overseen by the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) department.

“Health and wellness is a science,” said Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. “We reviewed the data surrounding physical activity and nutrition and recognize the positive correlation to student achievement.”

Dallas ISD is one of the many school districts across the country that use FitnessGram by The Cooper Institute to assess the overall physical health of its students. As the national test of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program, FitnessGram measures the fitness levels of over 10 million students across the country in nearly 20,000 schools in both English and Spanish.

“Assessment tools like FitnessGram by The Cooper Institute give us the data on their progress so we can make the best instructional decisions for our students’ health,” said Hinojosa. 

The new Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that children six and older should have at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity as well as muscle and bone strengthening activities.

While 30 minutes of daily recess at the elementary level gives students the benefit of active free-play time, physical education classes gives them organized activities and structured education about health and fitness.

Nearly 20 percent of school-aged children and 40 percent of adults are obese in the United States. According to the recent Beyond ABC report by Children’s Health, obesity rates for students in Dallas County have gone down by 29 percent since 2014, proving that what Dallas ISD is doing works.

Living with physical and mental health conditions can drastically change the trajectory of a child’s life as they move towards adulthood, or even shorten it. Fitness can help eliminate obesity and related medical conditions, as well as ward off mental health issues that obese children are more likely to suffer from like social isolation, depression and lower self-esteem.

Research from The Cooper Institute and other entities shows that students who are physically fit perform better in school, have higher reading and math scores, fewer behavioral problems and miss fewer days of school. 

“There is no doubt in our minds that whole-child health leads to whole-child success,” said Hinojosa. “We must focus our efforts on making our children healthier and more active.” 

“This is where the business community can step in, by keeping our children’s needs top of mind and investing in partnerships and grants for DISD, our schools, and our PTA community,” said Hinojosa.

By working together, the business community, Dallas ISD and The Cooper Institute can set students up for success in school and as a part of the future workforce of Dallas.

Their health and their success today is what Dallas needs to have healthy, productive, and highly-skilled workers tomorrow.

“We are so grateful to The Cooper Institute and proud of the work they do right here in Dallas and across the country to improve children’s health through fitness education and research,” said Hinojosa.

“We want our children to grow up to be active, healthy members of society who are ready to work or even to form companies of their own.”

The Cooper Institute is committed to building a better future, for Dallas and for the world, by building a healthier community today. Together with the help of businesses, volunteers, and advocates, we can make that happen so our children, our economy and our way of life can grow and thrive Well. Into the Future.

Written by Breanna Palmeiro