Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Rethinkers Speak Out on Childhood Obesity and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

From our Friends at ReThink:
Candy Bars, Prison Bars How Schools Can Reverse the Major Youth Epidemics of Our Times

The unstoppable Rethinkers - school reformers, aged 8-18 - want to interrupt what they call "the two biggest youth epidemics of our time," childhood obesity and the school-to-prison pipeline. They're related!

At a July 21 new conference, the Rethinkers will deliver twelve recommendations to their superintendents, principals, charter school operators, and fellow students. The recommendations detail concrete changes schools can adopt to make kids healthy and keep them out of the criminal justice system. Along the way, the Rethinkers will explain the connections they see between childhood obesity and the school-to-prison pipeline.

The new Recovery School District Superintendent, John White, will respond to the Rethinkers on behalf of the RSD.

Date: Thursday, July 21 at 11:00am
Location: New Orleans Charter Science & Mathematics High School (Cafeteria), 5625 Loyola Avenue

The Rethink summer news conference has become a post-Katrina tradition in New Orleans - packed with school officials and community members who listen closely to these education experts, many of them pint-sized middle schoolers. Rethink news conferences are highly creative and visually rich - this year will be no exception. Look out First Lady Obama and Beyoncé - the Rethinkers have a flash mob performance about childhood obesity that can't be beat! Look for some surprise dancers in the crowd...

Last month, the Rethinkers received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Funders' Collaborative on Youth Organizing to conduct a youth-driven campaign to stem childhood obesity in the New Orleans schools. The July 21 news conference marks the official campaign launch.

"Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents." - former Surgeon General Richard Carmona

"When kids don't eat right, they act out. When they act out, they get in trouble. When they get in trouble, they get suspended. So they need to eat right!" - Edgar P. Harney Elementary School Rethink Club

Background on Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools and School Food Reform:

In 2010, the Rethinkers published their first book, a graphic novel called Feet to the Fire: The Rethinkers' Guide to Changing Your School. It's based on Rethink school food campaigns and is available at That same year, MIT Press brought out Food Justice, the first major U.S. book on the subject. It featured an opening chapter on Rethink, one of dozens of occasions in which Rethink has drawn national and international notice.

Food-related Reports written by the Rethinkers:
Sowing Seeds for Better Health: Students Grade New Orleans Public School Cafeterias (2011)
Time To Rethink School Lunch: Students Grade New Orleans School Food and Cafeterias (2010)
Kids Will Eat It: Fresh, Local Food and New Orleans Public Schools (2009)

For a complete list of articles about Rethink from 2006 - 2011, visit:

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