BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Parents rallied in downtown Buffalo Wednesday to make their views on health education heard.
From sex education to what's served in the cafeteria to recess, parents want a better overall health program in Buffalo schools.
The parents were joined by health advocates on the steps of City Hall, urging officials for Buffalo Public Schools to implement a health program that was approved last year but has not yet been fully implemented.
Parents say there is little to no sex education in Buffalo schools and 200 students became pregnant last year alone.
Superintendent Pamela Brown said, "We have recently designed and are launching a new sexual health program for our seniors this year. So we're taking some steps in the direction. Is it fast enough so that everything is perfect at this moment? No."
But even smaller changes, like adding once a day recess for younger students, would improve children's health.
"We're talking about planned exercise daily, healthier food in the cafeteria," said teacher Lorna Hill. "Has there been an improvement? Of course there has. But is it sufficient? No it is not."
Buffalo Schools Medical Director Dr. Steven Lana said, "I know it sounds a little bit silly, but the children really need that outlet for their energy. It'll actually make them better learners."
"Probably in the last 10 to 12 years, all school districts have increased the amount of reading time, the amount of math, and in order to accommodate those requirements, it is true that there has been less physical education and time for other types of things," said Buffalo Schools Associate Superintendent Will Keresztes.
And after an outdoor rally, parents brought their message to the School Board meeting.
"We're talking about 4- and 5-year-olds here. How many do you know who can sit still for a long time? I teach college students and even they have difficulty sitting still," said parent Renee Cadzow.
Only 30 percent of Buffalo schools still have recess.
Keresztes said, "The reality is that for so many years it appeared as a luxury and now we have got to resurrect it as a requirement because it is required in the policy."
Keresztes says he will talk with principals Thursday morning about a more consistent recess schedule, and in the next few weeks the schools will hire a full-time Wellness coordinator to focus on student health programs.
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