Governor Announces Fit & Healthy Kids Challenge: Fall Back Into Fun, Food & Fitness

State of Vermont
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: October 1, 2004

Contact: Jason Gibbs
(802) 828-3333

MONTPELIER –Governor Jim Douglas today announced another seasonal challenge to Vermont youth: Fall Back Into Fun, Food & Fitness.  The effort is part of the Governor’s Fit and Healthy Kids Initiative, a component of Douglas’ comprehensive plan for quality, affordable health care for all Vermonters – A Prescription for a Healthy Vermont

Similar to the Daylight Savings Challenge of last spring, the Fall Back Into Fun, Food & Fitness challenge is being conducted the Week of October 4 and is tied with the end of daylight saving time, which occurs on October 31.

For the week of October 4, children are encouraged to keep a log of what they do to move more, eat more colors (fruits and vegetables) and watch less television. At the end of the week, logs returned to the Department of Health will be evaluated and participants are eligible for prizes awarded by the Governor at the Statehouse on October 21.

“I am very excited about the newest event in my Fit and Healthy Kids Initiative,” said Governor Jim Douglas. “This type of activity provides an opportunity for kids to learn more about the tools they need to be fit and healthy.”

Several weeks ago, Douglas sent letters to school principals, health educators and daycare providers to encourage participation.

“Although the days will be shorter after October 31, this is an opportune time to motivate our students to use creative ways to get more exercise and make healthy choices,” said Douglas.

Prizes include a walk with the Governor (kids get to wear their Halloween costumes), bike helmets, and copies of the book Day Hikes in Vermont. The school or organization with the most creative way of making the challenge part of their daily routine or curriculum will receive a special award.

Although not specifically part of the Governor’s Fall Back Into Fun, Food & Fitness challenge, several related events occur during the same period. On October 6, at least 17 Vermont schools will participate in the International Walk to School Day and throughout the school year, several Chittenden County schools will be participating in the new Safe Routes to School program.

Coordinated by the Vermont Department of Health, the Fit and Healthy Kids Initiative is a comprehensive approach to promote healthy eating and increased physical activity among Vermont’s children and families. Studies show that children who eat well and get plenty of exercise perform better in school and avoid chronic and costly diseases as adults.

By including the efforts of the Fit and Healthy Kids program with a chronic care initiative, long term care reforms, prescription drug price reduction efforts, and commitments to reducing substance abuse and encouraging healthy choices, Douglas has made comprehensive reform and improving the health of Vermonters a central component of his plan to reduce health care costs. 

“We need to do more than just change who pays the bill.  If costs continue to increase at the current rate, it won’t matter what pocket the money comes from because they’ll all be empty,” the Governor has said.  “That is why I have offered true reforms that tackle the root causes of rising health care costs, opens our system up to low cost options, encourages healthy decisions and preventative care, and attacks health concerns at their inception before they develop into more serious and costly ailments.”

Douglas says Vermont needs to maintain a patient-centered system that offers more choices and keeps health care decisions in the hands of patients and doctors, not government bureaucrats.

To lower the cost of health insurance, Governor Douglas proposed a plan that would immediately reduce premiums by 15 percent for every Vermonter with an individual insurance plan; offer low and middle income Vermonters a premium discount of up to 60 percent; reduce, by up to 50 percent, the cost for a small business to start providing insurance to employees; and decrease the number of uninsured Vermonters by 20 percent in the first year alone.

“But we won’t stop there,” Douglas stresses. “I will work every year to make progress toward our goal of affordable and accessible health care for everyone.”

For more information about the Fit and Healthy Kids Initiative and childhood obesity, see the Vermont Department of Health website at www.HealthyVermonters.info.