LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Former President Bill Clinton is back in Little Rock this week. Monday he was at the Clinton Presidential Center honoring some of the most proactive schools in the country for their efforts to improve children's health.
"Our children are depending on us," said Clinton, talking about the obesity epidemic in the United States and abroad. "Everyone here represents a school that is meeting or exceeding the new national standards."
"There are still some people who, for short-sighted economic reasons, want to repeal these rules," Clinton added. "All these people who want to go back to the way it was are not prepared to take responsibility personally or economically for the consequences of raising a generation of people that get diabetes and its unintended consequences and wreck lives and damage the American economy."
The Clinton Foundation along with the American Heart Association has founded a program called the Alliance for a Healthier Generation which sets health-related goals and standards for thousands of schools across the country. More than 250 schools were honored on Monday for their efforts to make their campuses healthier places for students and staff. Among them was Juan Munoz, principal at Wilkerson School in El Monte, California.
"It's really important, not in terms of their physical gain but, in terms of their academic gains as well," said Munoz. "It's not only within our students but also within our staff that we've seen a change. Our attendance had improved, our students' physical activity has improved, within our staff we do a wellness program so we have Weight Watchers and their attendance has improved. Overall it has created a better school climate, students have excelled academically and our teachers have always felt successful now that we have this increase in test scores."
"I think that the fact that an academic leader is willing to stand up and say 'our kids come to school because they're healthier, they wake up with more energy, they know we're going to take good care of them and, by the way, they feel better and learn more' is a message that we need to get out all across America," added Clinton.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation works with more than 18,000 schools across the country affecting more than 11 million students. Munoz said that, in addition to his students, his staff is also healthier, happier and missing less work.