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Healthy Kids, Smart Kids (2005)
President and Founder of Ennovy, Inc.;
Educator/Principal, Browns Mill Elementary School;
Nutritional Advocate, Consultant and Motivational Speaker;
Has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show, CNN, ABC, and Fox News, PBS and Tom Joyner’s BAW;
Publications in: People Magazine, Black Enterprise, Southern Living, Essence, Upscale, Women Health Fitness, and other media;
Recent Publications by Dr. Butler: Naturally Yours Desserts and More (2003), Dessert Lovers’ Choice (2005), and Healthy Kids, Smart Kids (2005);
BS in Mass Communications from Jackson State University;
Master’s degree in Counseling from State University of West Georgia;
Specialist Degree in Administration and Supervision from Jacksonville State University;
and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership form Sarasota University.
CBN.com THE BEGINNING
Dr. Yvonne Sanders-Butler had been yo-yo dieting for over 26 years. She was the largest of six sisters. Her sisters were sizes six to eight, while she wore a size 16.
“I was compulsive in nature, and I surrounded myself with food,” she says. “Over the years, my appetite increased. I grew a huge sweet tooth and became a super-carb and sugar addict.”
For Dr. Butler, as the sixth of eight children of sharecroppers growing up in rural Mississippi. There was no such notion as healthy eating. And as a result of her poor eating habits, she led a very unhealthy lifestyle until a drastic wake-up call in 1996 completely changed her life.
“I had a headache and I thought I had pink eye. That night around midnight, I looked in the bathroom mirror and my eye was bloodshot.”
Dr. Butler was rushed to the hospital at 1:00 a.m. with a heart thumping blood pressure of 200/140 and on the verge of a massive stroke.
“I almost lost my life to a stroke from a lifetime of overeating and being unhealthy,” she says. “After that near death experience, the doctor told me I had to make a lifestyle change.”
Dr. Butler joined an overeating support group and began to learn about healthy eating, and while going through that process, she realized she needed to change her behavior.
“I learned that I could cook without frying, have vegetables, and could actually drink water to live,” she says.
Her new approach to health and eating was a marked change from anything she or her family had known.
“I tell people that ignorance is killing people,” she says. “When I almost had a stroke, I had four educational degrees, but yet I didn't have the knowledge and understanding that I needed to take care of myself in terms of my nutrition and fitness.”
Today, Dr. Butler is the President and Founder of Ennvoy, Inc., a company which provides comprehensive health and wellness intervention, consultation, and support. The company combines sound nutrition and fitness practices, behavioral influence techniques, and project management disciplines to help organizations assess and better manage wellness behavior and environments.
STARTING A REVOLUTION
Dr. Butler became the principal of Browns Mill Elementary and Magnet School in 1998. The school serves children from mostly middle-class families and is devoted to the arts and dedicated to high achievement. As a person who suffered with weight issues all her life, Dr. Butler tuned in to how her students behaved during meal times. She was curious to see children regularly eating cookies and ice cream, screaming and even swapping lunches as she says “as if they were stock brokers on Wall Street.”
She also knew the numbers, 44.3 million Americans are overweight and 15% of children aged 6 through 19 are obese (defined as 30lbs over a healthy weight), with increasing numbers having Type-2 diabetes. It was during those moments that Dr. Butler made improving the health of her students a top priority.
“I wanted to give back what was given to me, and that was my life,” she says.
Dr. Butler established a nutrition and excellence program for her school by educating the students about health and establishing more physical activities. During this process, she also went after what she saw as the 'biggest culprit' – sugar.
“We changed the menus, we put in more fruit and vegetables. We took out all of the processed sugar, about 90 percent,” she says.
Sugar, high fat, and processed foods and drinks are no longer on the menu at Browns Mill Elementary.
“People told me that I was insane and that I'd lose my job, but I had to make a stand. Somebody had to do it because obesity is a critical issue. Research says that this would be the first generation of children that would die before their parents.”
Dr. Butler even invested her own money into the development of the sugar-free program because she believes that we must serve and support the whole child.
“A fragmented approach gives you fragmented results,” she says.
The results of Dr. Butler's 'sugar-free' school have soared to new heights with higher test scores, fewer disciplinary programs, and fewer weight problems among students.
HEALTHY KIDS SMART KIDS
“The book, Healthy Kids Smart Kids, is a guide,” she says. “We created that book to support health, to fight childhood obesity and as a guide to support families.”
Dr. Butler wanted to support families who wanted to make a change by providing them with as much information about health and healthy living as she could.
“This is my tenth year as principal. We've just completed eight years of the program being implemented, and it's amazing,” she says. “We [teachers and students] work out to music every morning because we know that when kids work out, it provides oxygen to the brain, so it automatically gets them focused and on-task first thing in the morning.”
Dr. Butler also introduced more physical activity in P.E. classes as well.
“We have workstations. When the kids go in, they do everything from Yoga, to the treadmill, to dance and physical exercise,” she says. “We teach health classes and nutrition, too. It's just not left to P.E.”
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