Michigan Gets Fit

The rising cost of health care is a significant challenge facing Southwest Michigan families and job providers today. Two-thirds of Michigan adults are currently overweight or obese, which ends up costing us billions of dollars in annual medical expenses. We must turn this tide or health care costs will continue to strain our economy and pocketbooks.

Becoming a healthier Michigan will enhance the quality of our lives and help our economy by reducing costs.

Gov. Rick Snyder recently presented his “Special Message to the Legislature on Health and Wellness” which contained several recommendations concerning obesity and nutrition.

I thank the governor for making it a priority to improve the health of Michigan residents, and for including increasing healthy food choices and addressing child obesity as key initiatives to achieve this goal.

I co-sponsored the cottage food industry law last year to increase access for families to healthy, locally-grown foods at farmers’ markets and roadside stands, something we have plenty of in Southwest Michigan. It was about eliminating barriers to entrepreneurship and boosting the economy, but it was also about encouraging people to eat healthier.

I know the value of being fit and healthy.  In fact, I have been named Healthiest Legislator for five years running; an honor that is determined by miles walked.  Therefore, I am very excited that the governor is stressing the importance of physical activity for our kids. More than 12 percent of Michigan children are obese—a startling statistic. Throughout my time in the Legislature, I have looked for ways to combat child obesity, and I look forward to working with the governor to address this rising challenge without increasing costs to schools.

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10th Anniversary of 9/11 is a Time to Unite as Americans

Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America. The horrific tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001 has been etched into our minds forever.

A decade later, let us in Southwest Michigan unite with the rest of the nation in honor of the memories of those we lost in New York, at the Pentagon and in the fields of Pennsylvania. My thoughts and prayers go out to each of the families affected by this tragedy.

It is truly a testament to the greatness of America that when we are confronted we come together as a people and rise to meet that challenge.

This Sunday, celebrate the bravery of the men and women who became modern-day heroes due to their extraordinary courage on that terrible day.

Remember the selflessness of the passengers of United 93, who sacrificed themselves to prevent further tragedy, and honor the fearless first responders who ran into the towers to save lives – often at the cost of their own.

America is the home of the free and a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world. Sept. 11th reminds us that our freedoms do come at a high price.

America and our way of life are worth defending. The patriots who have risked their lives preserving our liberty deserve our heartfelt appreciation.

In honor of the lives lost Sept. 11, 2001, and to our firefighters, police officers and brave soldiers who protect our Southwest Michigan community and our nation every day, I commend you for your courage, dedication and service.

As we unite in remembrance of 9/11, look forward with optimism that if we each do our part, our country and world will be a better place.

Back to School for Kids and Parents

Another school year is about to start, and it is important for us parents to fill our role to ensure our children are prepared to learn. In our modern, global economy, a good education is vital for children to become tomorrow’s skilled workers and strong leaders. Involved parents as well as proactive teachers have a huge impact on fostering a child’s desire to learn.

Research from Duke University found that students whose parents are involved in their school work develop more motivation and set higher career goals than students whose parents are less involved. While helping our children understand classroom material at an early age helps improve their chances for success in high school and college, the study also mentioned parents visiting their child’s school as a key factor in their development.

The Michigan Department of Education has valuable resources on its website at: http://www.michigan.gov/mde. It includes links to numerous programs as well as information on rights of students and parents.

To parents of first-time students, this may seem daunting, but the best thing we can do to ensure our child’s academic success is simply to be there for them. That begins with ensuring they get plenty of sleep, arrive to school on time, complete their homework and eat healthy meals. It also means building our children up with positive reinforcement that will empower them in the classroom.

This school year, as parents let’s put our children’s education first. It is one of the most important things we can do to prepare our kids for the future. I hope you have a great school year!