Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Take a stand for healthier kids


In June, Cincinnati ranked 60th among the nation's 80 largest cities in the Population Connection's study of the quality of children's lives. It was a poor showing for a city that prides itself on being a good place to raise a family, and it helped trigger the Enquirer Editorial Board's five-part series, Healthy Kids, Healthy Future. (Cincinnati.com, Keyword: Children).

In turn, that series is triggering an amazing chain of local actions and initiatives to improve children's health. Parents, schools, local businesses and some communities are pledging small and large changes that will help kids eat better, be more active or better understand how to take better care of themselves.

Since the series began Sept. 26, we have received nearly 100 pledges that are affecting thousands of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky children and adolescents. They have come from families, schools, health professionals, businesses and communities, and they are making it clear that residents think children's health should be a priority.

Public officials, take note.

We are especially impressed by the passion and creativity shown by teachers and school administrators who are stepping up to help their students be healthier. Bravo to St. Therese School in Southgate, Ky., for trading a candy sale fundraiser for a walkathon.

And how inspiring to have Cincinnati Public Schools be our first food-service department to make a pledge. Teaching its workers about serving sizes and nutritional needs is an essential step in helping students have healthier lunches.

But we're still waiting to hear from other groups. The City of Cincinnati, for example, hasn't weighed in with a single idea. With this issue, creativity and commitment can accomplish more than capital outlays.

We're a city of experts in athletics, health care, education and public safety. We'd love to see the Bengals or Reds, the University of Cincinnati, Xavier or Northern Kentucky universities partner to give children in underserved communities more fitness opportunities.

We also look forward to hearing from religious institutions, hospitals, safety officials and even more families and businesses.

If you have contact with children, you have all the reason you need to pledge.

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