The Central Iowa Well Kids Coalition was formally announced Monday morning at Carver Elementary because the school’s a go-to spot if you’re looking to get something off and running.

Some 30 area health care providers, state agencies and wellness groups joined forces with United Way and DMPS to promote a vigorous campaign aimed at establishing healthy lifestyles for kids and their families.

Think of the objective as a valuable locked in a safe, the combination to which is 5-2-1-0. Here’s how to remember it:

  • 5 = daily servings of fruits and vegetables
  • 2 = daily hours of screen time (or less!)
  • 1 = daily hour of exercise
  • 0 = sugary drinks (more water!)

Before leading a cafeteria full of community visitors on a tour of her school/fitness center, Carver principal Jill Burnett-Requist welcomed them with an overview of the ways fitness is embedded in the routines there.

“Since our track was installed our students have logged 97,000 laps,” she said. “That’s more than 14,000 miles.”

KidStriders, a school-based exercise incentive program, provided Carver with an app that tallies every student’s cumulative mileage. Every time they take to the track during recess, PE, or at lunchtime, they get their lanyards scanned, like checking the balance of a savings account before making a deposit.

Girls on the Run also has a chapter at Carver now. Those 17 joggers have racked up over 1,900 laps this year, or about 280 miles. Two of them, 4th grader Aundrea McGregory and 3rd grader Anahi Perales, told the assembled guests about lessons they’ve learned while getting in the habit of regular exercise.

“Step into someone’s shoes,” was how Anahi put it. “Try to help somebody out.”

Chelsie Olberding is the 3rd grade teacher who sponsors the GOTR group. Yes, she confirmed, besides physical training the girls acquire other sorts of conditioning.

“At the start of the year everyone was huffing and puffing,” she said. “But they all built up endurance – and empathy for others.”

The tourists dropped in on classrooms where teachers incorporate movement activities into lesson plans and students participate in the Pick a Better Snack program that teaches them to be healthier food consumers. “Brain breaks” are also included in the daily schedule at Carver, a time to “relax, re-center and refocus.” The school’s nearly 600 students all receive free, and healthy, breakfast and lunch each day.

Elisabeth Buck is the president of United Way of Central Iowa and she declared an organizational goal of getting the area’s score on the Gallup Wellbeing Index, a comprehensive community health measure, up to 64.5 by the year 2020. The 2016 score of 63.8 ranked 23rd out of 189 metro areas nationwide.

“With the help of Des Moines Public Schools and all of the other partners represented here today I know we can do it,” she said.

DMPS school board president Teree Caldwell Johnson noted that the 5210 coalition marks the first time that all of the assembled groups with overlapping purposes have come together to share a unified message. And an important part of it is that, “5210 is aimed at families, not just kids,” she said. “Adopting healthier diets and lifestyles is something that everyone in a family can do together.”

The Carver track made for another popular stop on the school tour Monday. It didn’t feel like the last week of classes before winter break, so the visitors got a good look at packs of students racking up more mileage on their lap lanyards.

Consider the inviting weather Mother Nature’s Seal of Approval for the Well Kids Coalition. It’s off and running.

To learn more, visit

5210 Launches at Carver – DMPS-TV News

Published on