Helping Children & Adolescents in Northern Virginia Get and Stay Healthy
In 2014, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) conducted an anonymous, voluntary survey of the behaviors, experiences, risks, and protective factors of 46, 855 FCPS students, belonging to grades 6, 8, 10, and 12, representing 87% of all enrolled students.
The main finding of the survey is that among these FCPS students, “just having three assets (or strengths) dramatically reduces risk behaviors and promotes thriving youth.”
Examples of assets are
· Community adults these students can talk to
· Participating in extracurricular activities
· Having parents available for help
· Participating in community service
· Having teachers who recognize good work
Based on this survey, Fairfax County shared the following tips for parents or caregivers to help teenagers stay healthy:
1. Don’t focus solely on weight. Focus instead on building good nutritional habits and participating in enjoyable physical activity.
2. Reduce the amount of media and screen time. This helps encourage time for enjoyable physical activity, and prevents overexposure to marketing that promotes candy, sugary foods, or fast foods.
3. Eat meals together as a family.
4. Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables
5. Limit foods high in fat and sugar.
6. Serve your family water instead of sugary drinks
7. Ensure children and adolescents get enough sleep, as a lack of sleep is a risk factor for obesity and related depression.
8. Work with your homeowners association to establish a regular maintenance and safety check schedule for playgrounds and tot lots.
9. Establish a policy in your PTA or house of worship to limit the amount of unhealthy foods served at events, potlucks, and fundraisers.
10. Form carpooling partnerships to help more kids participate in after-school and athletic activities.
For questions regarding this survey or recommendations, please contact:
Sophia Dutton – Sophia.Dutton@fairfaxcounty.gov
Countywide Service Integration and Planning Management Strategic Planning, Communications, and Info Management
Dede Bailer – Dede.Bailer@fcps.edu
Fairfax County Public Schools Office of Intervention and Prevention Services