May 23, 2012
Today the W.K. Kellogg Foundation recognized Parents United for Healthy Schools – a Chicago-based coalition of parents and guardians, educators and community leaders – for its significant contribution in making Chicago schools healthier places for kids. WKKF President and CEO Sterling K. Speirn presented this special recognition to parents Hilda Casarez and Karina Macedo at the Food & Community Conference in Asheville, N.C.
“When it comes to education and healthy school environments, parents voices matter,” said Speirn. “What’s happening with these parents and in Chicago is a model for change across the country.”
Parents United for Healthy Schools, also known as Padres Unidos para Escuelas Saludables, is leading the charge to improve school meals and increase physical activity opportunities for Chicago students. Parents founded the organization in 2006 with support from WKKF grantee Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) to address growing health disparities. One of its early wins was to get parent members onto school-based wellness teams.
“What we’ve learned,” says Guillermo Gomez of HSC, “is that when it comes to health and when it comes to justice, the messenger is just as important as the message.”
Parents United successfully has advocated for a longer school day to allow more time for lunch, recess and physical activity. The group has promoted universal breakfast in classrooms at every elementary school to ensure the city’s young students start their day with a healthy meal. Parents United also has laid the foundation for significant improvements to Chicago Public Schools food program.
By promoting changes at the school and district levels, parent leaders on more than 50 wellness teams are playing an important role in creating the conditions for health and learning in Chicago’s schools and ensuring that children’s school experiences help them develop healthy habits for a lifetime.
WKKF applauds Parents United for Healthy Schools for its accomplishments in promoting healthy schools and healthy kids and wishes the coalition continued success.