BUFFALO, NY - Parents, teachers, and students from the Buffalo School District came together today for a student health rally outside of City Hall in downtown Buffalo.
According to the Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo, sex education is major problem in Buffalo schools and student sexual health indicators are the poorest in New York State. Over 200 students became pregnant last year alone.
In terms of physical education, Buffalo has high rates of childhood obesity and 45 percent of Buffalo Public School 7th graders are overweight.
Advocates say this is because the Buffalo School District is out of compliance with New York State Education Department (NYSED) regulations on physical and health education.
Jessica Bauer Walker, the Executive Director of the Community Health Worker Network of Buffalo and the Vice President of the District Parent Coordinating Council, has children in Buffalo schools and organized the event to raise awareness about the health issues in the district.
"They are not providing appropriate physical education. They're short by about 30 physical education teachers, so the state requirements for physical education are not being met. Children are not getting an opportunity for physical education and other physical activity like recess. They're also out of compliance with health education," Bauer Walker said.
The Community Health Worker Network and the District Parent Coordinating Council are calling this a public health crisis, and filed a request with NYSED for oversight of physical and health education requirements in Buffalo Public Schools.
"If our children aren't healthy, there is no way that they can learn. So it's really important for our kids to be healthy and safe. We as parents are standing up for our kids," said Bauer Walker.
The two groups, along with parents and students in the district, are working to make Buffalo Public Schools a healthier environment for children.
The rally also protested cuts to the district's instrumental music programs.