International Valley Health Institute
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School Parks Coalition

The Coalition for School-Parks includes individuals and organizations who want school playgrounds in their neighborhoods made available for community recreation after school hours.

Reasoning

The Edinburg-McAllen-Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area has been found to be the most obese place on the face of the earth; and obesity is basic to most diabetes, heart disease, and many forms of cancer.  It is in our enlightened self interest in a healthy economic future to get off the top of the list of places with the unhealthiest work forces.  What company wants to establish a manufacturing plant where the highest absenteeism, and health care and retraining costs are all but guaranteed? 

In the Edinburg school district, for example, the prevalence of obesity in first grade is 22% and that of overweight is 18%; that amounts to 40% of first graders being obese or overweight; when we look at 8 to 13 year olds, the figure jumps to 60%.  Is it any wonder that this is the first generation predicted to have a shorter life span than their parents, and that recruiting young people into the armed forces is now a problem since so many are rejected for being obese? 

We know that daily exercise, along with good nutrition, are the solutions to this problem.  In addition to encouraging school children to ride bicycles and walk to school safely, shouldn’t opportunities for recreation in their neighborhoods also be part of the solution if the general goal is to increase physical activity to control weight gain in the student and his or her family?

Creation of school-parks will contribute to the prevention of obesity in our region because they increase opportunities for physical activity outside of the school day.  When school children are more physically active, they behave better in class, earn higher grades, are healthier, and miss school less often than other students.  The school-park concept thus aligns perfectly with the mission of the schools.

Our cities and county lack sufficient parks within walking distance of home for many children and their families.  The school-park concept is compelling for this reason and because it involves using public resources efficiently.  We live in the poorest metropolitan county in the nation.  School districts, cities, and the county have limited budgets, making school-parks an economical way to increase recreational areas for children and their families since development of a school-park is easier and less expensive than developing a stand-alone park. 

           

Become Involved

Please contact us using the form on the contact page; there are many ways to become involved.

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