‘Sugar-free week’ campaign at Sopris Elementary School | PostIndependent.com

‘Sugar-free week’ campaign at Sopris Elementary School

Staff Report

Things are a little less sweet at Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs this week.

That's because the school is recognizing "No Sugar in School" week for all students and teachers.

The awareness campaign was organized by the Sopris Elementary Wellness Committee, in partnership with the Roaring Fork Schools, the Glenwood Springs Safeway grocery store and Garfield County Public Health's LiveWell program.

The Wellness Committee was formed in the fall of 2015 and worked to obtain grant funds through Action for Healthy Kids and LiveWell Garfield County.

Money was used to purchase recess carts and playground equipment for students in order to increase activity levels.

Money also went to creating a program called the "Celebration Binder," which offers students healthy alternatives for celebrating school birthdays without sugary snacks and treats.

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The committee declared November as Wellness Month at SES and has planned several events, including the sugar-free school week, wellness-related lesson plans, and parent health tips and newsletter articles.

Sugar-free week culminates with a Wellness Night for families at the school from 6:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday.

"We want to be able to offer positive and fun ideas for making healthy lifestyle choices," SES Wellness Committee member Carrie Godes said.

"The idea of a sugar-free school week came from a committee member," she said. "We had no idea if we could pull it off. We searched the web and haven't found any evidence that something like this has been done before."

Godes said the campaign was created to raise awareness around two major points.

First, kids perform better at school without sugar. "Children's school performance is impacted by their sugar consumption in a few ways. One problem is that consuming a lot of sugary foods essentially fills up the body with empty calories, meaning that children who eat sugar are not eating enough healthy foods to give their brain and body the nutrients they need to function well."

Second, sugar in kids is linked to chronic disease and obesity later in life. "Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes because it took years of eating unhealthy food to develop. Now, more kids are developing this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three children born after 2000 will develop diabetes."

According to LiveWellColorado.org:

• 23 percent of Colorado children (ages 2-14) are overweight or obese.

• With a ranking of 23rd in the nation, Colorado's childhood obesity rate is rising at the second-fastest rate of increase in the nation.

• Between 2003 and 2007, Colorado's childhood obesity national ranking dropped from third leanest to 23rd, and the number of obese 10-17 year olds rose from 48,000 to 72,000.

"The SES Wellness Committee would like to thank the Roaring Fork Schools for being such a willing and supportive partner," Godes said. "The committee is especially thankful for Principal Kathy Whiting, who has shown leadership, endless energy and passion for the health of her students and faculty."

Glenwood Springs' Safeway store provided 200 healthy snacks every day this week to exchange for any sugary snacks that children might bring to school, along with healthy fruit and vegetable trays for the faculty.

"This is an unbelievably generous gift from Safeway," Godes said. "The sugar-free week would not have been possible without them."