Governor Deval Patrick today joined U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino at the Oliver Wendell Holmes School (Holmes School) in Dorchester to highlight Step It Up, an innovative pilot program that encourages students to be active and healthy in order to prevent childhood obesity.
"I am proud to join Secretary Sebelius to show-off how our communities and public schools are working hard to keep our children healthy," said Governor Patrick. "Addressing childhood obesity is imperative to future generations and we will continue to work hard and invest in programs such as Mass in Motion to ensure a healthy, bright future for Massachusetts families."
"We know that the health and well-being of our kids is a growing concern," said Secretary Sebelius. "Today there are more reasons to stay inside on the couch and fast unhealthy meals can be easier to get than nutritious ones, and the result is that almost one in every three children in our nation is overweight or obese. The Step It Up initiative is a great example of how a private partner like Partners HealthCare and a public partner like the Boston Public Schools can come together to help kids get and stay healthy."
The Partners HealthCare Center for Connected Health launched the pilot initiative Step It Up last school year at the Holmes School to encourage students to be active. In the first year, the students collectively took 50 million steps. Step It Up is a collaboration of the Partners HealthCare Center for Connected Health, DotWell, the Dorchester Family School Initiative and the Holmes and Fifield Elementary Schools.
"We are honored Secretary Sebelius came to Boston to learn about Step It Up and our successful efforts to promote wellness and healthy living for our school children," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Teaching children at an early age about the benefits of exercise and good nutrition helps put them on the right track to live healthier, productive lives as adults. Boston supports a number of important health and wellness initiatives, including the Let's Move campaign, to solve the crisis of childhood obesity."
"We want to help the young people of our city live active, healthy lives. Partners Step It Up encourages increased physical activity and good nutrition, and through our collaboration with the Center for Connected Health, DotWell and the Boston Public Schools, we're able to expand Step It Up from two to six schools this year," said Gary Gottlieb, MD, President and CEO, of Partners HealthCare. "We are happy to announce that we will engage more than 350 students in a fun, competitive healthy living program."
Obesity is a significant public health problem nationwide. To address childhood and adult obesity, Governor Patrick launched Mass in Motion in January 2009. Mass in Motion aims to promote wellness and to prevent overweight and obesity in Massachusetts, with a particular focus on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity.
Due to the Patrick-Murray Administration's commitment to quality health care for all Massachusetts residents, Massachusetts is leading the nation in health care coverage with over 98 percent of all residents insured, including over 99.8 percent of all children and 99.6 percent of seniors. Mass in Motion continues efforts by the Patrick-Murray Administration to implement innovative public policy programs to support the success of health care reform. Health care spending to manage obesity-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes has skyrocketed over the last two decades. The policy changes and prevention strategies supported by Mass in Motion will contribute to the long-term health of our residents and the continued success of our groundbreaking health care reform law by reducing the impact of obesity -- a major risk factors for chronic disease. Mass in Motion is the first statewide health initiative to be supported by all of the Commonwealth's major health-funding foundations.
The Holmes School has small classroom sizes that range from 15 to 18 students and is characterized as an inclusion school because it fully includes students with disabilities in all classrooms. The school has a strong music program and has received grant from VH1's "Save the Music" program and has also won grants from VSA Arts of Massachusetts to support creative activities for students with and without disabilities.