October 17, 2016
Actions to Make a Healthy Difference Everywhere Kids Go
Plan demonstrations of how kids (and adults) can achieve healthy balance everywhere they live learn work and play. This month’s HKC Newsletter, Wednesday WOWS, focuses on interactive demonstration activities connected to:
- School happenings (National School Lunch Week)
- Holiday celebrations (Halloween/Fall Festivals)
- Health fairs
- The classroom
And the activity ideas can be used for many different places and age groups. They have been used anywhere from libraries to zoos and for pre-school to seniors. For a staff wellness meeting, try this interactive healthy goal setting activity:
Make up puzzles with a healthy message such as “Enjoy a Walk,” “Choose a Variety of Fruit and Veggie Colors,” and “Make Smart Serving Choices.” Create one puzzle for every 4-6 people, each with a different color background to make putting the puzzle together easier. When each person comes into the room, they choose one puzzle piece. At a designated time, have participants find like colors and put their puzzle pieces together to identify the message. If time permits, have each puzzle “group” talk about the message and how they could incorporate it into their day (this activity idea is from the HKC Wellness Solutions Toolkit).
If you are on a school organization group’s wellness council, find ways to role model and include these types of activity in your yearly plans.
October 3, 2016
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recently announced new guidelines for pediatricians and parents to help teens avoid both the development of eating disorders and obesity. AAP’s recommendations include discouraging dieting, skipping meals and the use of diet pills. Instead, experts recommend promoting a positive body image by promoting a balanced diet and exercising for fitness rather than weight loss; encouraging more frequent family meals; and avoiding talking about weight all together.
Although it is something we already know, it seems that for many of us, healthy balance isn’t easily achieved. Physical activity is sometimes perceived as something that isn’t fun and healthy eating is often thought to be boring or not as tasty, and perceptions are hard to shake. So to make a change, we need to start by changing those perceptions. This month’s Healthy Kids Challenge WOWS Newsletters and blogs will focus on developing appeal for healthy balance. It starts with positive messages and role-modeling and extends to demonstrating options everywhere kids go and finally, helping students and families set goals for practicing healthy habits.
Whenever possible, Healthy Kids Challenge demonstrates how to make the connection between healthy eating and physical activity for healthy balance. In the first October newsletter, suggestions are made to use role-modeling…connecting athletes and coaches to nutrition education.
September 26, 2016
The only way to find out what kids think about school meal needs is to ask them! Whether you develop input through student-led “Nutrition Advisory Councils (NACs)” or with a series of activities, developing interaction can be highly successful.
Kids can help lead healthy change through peer nutrition education, promoting the school meal program and helping to create a healthier environment. The following activities help promote input:
- Taste test new menu items. With a classroom teacher, arrange to give small samples and initiate a brief “Taste and Learn” discussion about how the item fits into school meal requirements.
- Have kids brainstorm or respond to marketing ideas. For example, what do they think about promoting the cafeteria with a contest to give it a school name?
- Ask about their ideas for healthy fundraising and how they can encourage school organizations to sponsor healthy fundraising options.
- Ask students to develop a monthly bulletin board. Use it as an opportunity to have a health professional (registered dietitian) talk and provide resources about reliable vs. unreliable nutrition information. MyPlate.gov is a good “go to” for reliable information.
- Conduct a “behind the scenes” school kitchen tour. Provide a demonstration on a topic of interest. For example, talk about why portion sizes matter in nutrition standards. Show the tools used to ensure that portion sizes are appropriate.
September 19, 2016
Schools participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms Initiative are working towards helping kids make healthy eating choices a habit. A smarter lunchroom is one that nudges kids towards nutritious foods.
Solutions for creating Smarter Lunchrooms are low cost/no-cost and easily implemented, such as:
- Creating an appealing lunchroom environment
- Promoting healthful eating behaviors
- Sustaining the positive changes made
Best practices and lunchroom solutions that the Smarter Lunchrooms Initiative endorses have been studied and proven effective in a wide variety of schools across the nation. Examples include:
- Moving and highlighting fruit increased sales of fruit by up to 102%
- Naming vegetables and displaying the new names with the foods increased selection of vegetables from between 40% – 70%
- Placing white milk first in the lunchroom coolers has resulted in an increase of up to 46% in white milk sales
Studies have also shown that:
- The first of highlighted entrée on the lunch line has an 11% advantage over the second option
- The number of students consuming “healthy items” increased by 35% after the introduction of a “healthy choices only” convenience line
Over 30 million children are fed by the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Smarter Lunchrooms are making a healthy difference!
September 13, 2016
Across the country, getting parents on board with healthy changes at school is a frequent question at our workshops. Here a few examples:
- Invite parents to have school breakfast or lunch with their child.
- Find “health champions” who have an interest in learning about healthy school environments and will be advocates.
- Spread the word about the connection between healthy eating & physical activity and academics. In print and in discussions, enhance awareness of studies that show kids who make healthy eating and activity choices perform better in school than those who do not.
- Make school wellness happenings Talk with parents during parent-teacher conferences and at school events. Create signs, door banners, bulletin boards and classroom artwork to spread healthy messaging.
- Provide healthy tips in newsletters and on websites for parents to use at home.
- Invite parents to attend school wellness council meetings and let them know their thoughts do matter.
- Provide health topics homework that supports parent-child discussion.
September 6, 2016
Is there a better time for a breakfast campaign than the start of the new school year? Kick off the year for academic success! From studies, we know that kids who eat breakfast have better concentration and more energy. In fact, eating breakfast can help improve math, reading, and standardized test scores!
If you are an educator or youth leader:
- Help kids hear the message that breakfast is a daily habit that gives GO Power for more energy and better concentration, making school easier!
- Choose interactive lessons that let kids see that breakfast foods can be fun and tasty!
- Plan activities that let them do, such as Healthy Kids Challenge Taste and Learn Lessons that give the option of preparing and tasting a breakfast recipe.
If you are a parent:
- Learn more about actions in your school district to support the connection between breakfast and increased potential for academic success.
- For home, take time with your children to make a list of healthy breakfast ideas. If breakfast is frequently skipped, talk about why. Discuss how to make breakfast a daily habit.