The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation is partnering with six rural Iowa schools to create a wellness program for students. David Lyons, is the chief business development officer for the Iowa Farm Bureau, and says they want the pilot program to help elementary students battle obesity, establish better nutrition and higher activity levels. He says they want to “deliver some of the wellness modeling and training down to kids in the second through fourth grade.”

He says they’re able to put the wellness program into direct learning — particularly in the math and sciences. Lyons gives an example of how the program works. He says it will be a curriculum that says “okay you need to have certain types of math problems and proficiency.” He says for instance, you could have a math problem that asks students if you have a can of pop with x number of calories and you burn x number of calories walking — then how many miles would you have to walk to burn off the calories if you drank the pop?

Lyons says nearly a third of Iowa school children now battling obesity and obesity-related illnesses. He says. “We have to face the issue that all of our children have greater challenges right now because of changes in lifestyle, changes in eating habits, changes in activities. So, It really is a statewide challenge to be able to take what we’re learning now with adults and what we’re learning with wellness programming and get that incorporated into kids’ programming earlier and earlier.” Lyons says this approach has been used with kids in other areas.

He says they’ve seen it in issues such as recycling where recycling in early childhood activities leads to a better understanding for the kids. He says all of the schools had to have active wellness programs for their teachers to be involved. Lyons says parents will also be involved. Lyons says the children will all go on-line and fill out a pediatric health assessment that tells them the key factors and indicators they should probably be working on.” He says the overall information on each student in the database will be used to develop a schoolwide wellness program. The schools participating in the program are: Elk Horn, Farragut, Rockwell City, Schleswig, Mormon Trail and WACO.