NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk.DailyVoice.com accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To the Editor,
My son attends Naramake Elementary School, which has had a No Food Birthday Celebrations policy for at least three years. Naramake had many children with severe food allergies, and with large class sizes, it was just becoming too dangerous for the children. The school principal made a decision to remove food from birthday celebrations. Many parents were irate with this new policy, but like anything new, it took a while to get used to. I remember going to my son's first-grade-class that year to read his favorite book to his classmates. He still talks about mom coming to his first-grade-class to read "Froggy Plays Soccer" on his birthday. In contrast, he's almost 9 years old now, and I'm quite sure he doesn't remember what kind of birthday cake we had at his party last year!
At Naramake School, the children still have birthday celebrations, and it's always centered around the child. I remember my daughter, who adored her fourth-grade teacher, got to eat lunch with her teacher on her birthday. My son, now entering fourth-grade, loves when there's a birthday in his class because they get extra recess time. Ironic, you're cutting calories by eliminating sugary foods AND increasing exercise! Now that could help solve the childhood obesity epidemic!
As a former PTOC President, one of the most common questions I was asked is why some schools have removed food from birthday celebrations, and some have not? When the Norwalk Public Schools Wellness Committee asked principals for their thoughts, many requested a Board of Education birthday food policy that they could enact at their school. Yes, the BOE and city of Norwalk have much bigger issues to solve, but was usual business supposed to stop while NPS restructures schools through layoffs, searches for a new superintendent and negotiates with unions? The importance in moving the Wellness Policy vote forward was to have a policy in place for the beginning of the school year, and to give principals the support they need to enact the new policy.
As director of Norwalk Grows, I am in support of any measure that promotes wellness in our schools. Through school garden initiatives and programs run by Norwalk Grows, the students at 12 NPS schools are growing fresh vegetables and fruits in their school gardens, establishing Youth Farmers Markets and learning the importance of healthy eating. The childhood obesity epidemic is a complex issue that will take a multi-faceted approach to combat. Many Norwalk corporate, community and city partners, including Norwalk Grows, have pulled together to attack this issue at many different levels through the establishment of Wellness Committee collaboration. Removing food-based birthday celebrations is a small step to take to tackle the problem.
Everyone in Norwalk cares about our kids and their health. We are a proud city that will support the wellness of our children and the future health of our residents. I hope the Board of Education will vote to support the changes in the BOE Wellness Policy.