Almost half of Batesville Community School Corp. students, 998, have serious medical conditions, health services director Gayla Vonderheide told trustees Aug. 19 while presenting her annual report. The conditions range from leukemia, brain tumors, diabetes and seizure disorders to cardiac problems, pregnancies, attention deficit and emotional disorders and allergies.
So that they are aware of potential problems, lists are given to applicable employees, including administrators, teachers, support staff and bus drivers.
She detailed three major impacts on students’ well-being. After kids in grades 1-10 were checked, “we continue to see an increase in our students’ blood pressures.” Some take high blood pressure medicine and are followed by physicians. She added, “Calls were made to parents if we had a concern with the student’s blood pressure.”
Heights and weights also were recorded on students in those grades to calculate each youth’s body mass index (BMI). The director noted, “The data does show that we have an obesity/weight problem in our schools. Our percentage is 33 percent at risk and 17 percent obese” in 2012-13. With 6 percent of kids shifting from obese to at risk, “we are getting better, but we have a long way to go.”
Batesville Middle School and Batesville High School PE teachers sent BMI and blood pressure information home to parents. “For some, it shows that the students need to make some changes in their physical activity and eating habits. The student was also to set goals and parents signed this information and returned it to school.” She hopes to give parents at all four schools BMI data this year. “We need to educate on how to develop healthier lifestyles.”
She said, “Diseases riding on the coattails of this epidemic are, most prominently, diabetes, asthma, heart and vascular diseases, joint and muscular problems, high cholesterol, liver and renal disease, and it increases their risk of adult-onset obesity.” She told trustees high schoolers requested more convocations on good nutrition. “We think healthy students make better learners.”