Shortly after Laura Dice moved back to West Virginia in 2012 and took a job as the Coordinator for Keys 4 HealthyKids in Charleston, she attended a Kanawha County School Wellness meeting, where a parent came forward to say that his son wasn’t getting any exercise at school. His complaint was just one of many that Dice was hearing. Keys 4 HealthyKids advocates physical activity for children, so Dice began to really look at the claims.
What she found was troubling. Overall there was a lack of data about activity for students in the state’s public schools. For example, statewide, there is no requirement for recess, and sometimes it is taken away during testing periods. With no data, there was no information about which schools had recess and which didn’t. Anecdotally, Dice heard when there was bad weather, students wouldn’t go outside, even if they did have recess, for months at a time. Meanwhile West Virginia is the fourth most obese state in the nation, and about 18.5 percent of its young people age 10-17 are obese.