Set the Stage for Wellness

January 9, 2017

Cute Hispanic elementary school student holding tray of cafeteria food

Studies show that children eat approximately one-third of their daily food intake while at school.

When students have the option, they are more likely to purchase foods and beverages that are high in calories, fats, and/or sugar. On the school campus these foods are called competitive foods because they compete with school meals. These options are frequently found in places such as vending machines, school stores, à la carte lines, class parties, and as fundraisers.

Setting the stage requires wellness policies with guides to meet standards for healthier choices. For the policies to be successful they also need widespread acceptance. From the people who implement the policy to those who are impacted by it, success has the greatest potential when the following actions are taken:

  1. Involve everyone in the process, including the creation and implementation of the policies. If you don’t have a Student Advisory Group (SAG), it can be very helpful to create one. SAG can conduct surveys with peers to obtain constructive feedback.
  2. Instead of “reinventing the wheel,” learn from the lessons learned by others. See the January 11th issue of the WOWS Newsletter for helpful resources.
  3. Through marketing and nutrition education, create an interest in wellness. The Healthy Kids Challenge Explore MyPlate With School Nutrition Guidebook is an easy-to-use guide with tips and tools for school nutrition services managers and wellness teams! Action ideas are designed to increase participation through marketing and promotion and help meet the HealthierUS School Challenge. Content includes MyPlate, trivia, bulletin boards, food science experiments to link with curriculum standards, menu planning tips, and fun ideas for youth advisory councils. The guidebook is designed for programs serving students in grades K-8.

Syracuse Children's Health Fair
Active Play can be a part of every day…and it’s just that, play – something that is fun and enjoyable. Rainy days encourage me to be creative and think of ways to get moving while we are stuck inside. It certainly doesn’t take fancy equipment or a gym membership to be active. I thought about ordinary items around my house (and yours) that can get you jumping, running, and moving around! Here are 5 tips for active play on a rainy day:

  • Scarves – make a game out of tossing it up and trying to catch it. Try twirling around before catching it.
  • Balloons – blow them up and start batting them around. How high can you toss it? Can you toss it up, do a jumping jack and catch it before it hits the ground? Play a game of toss with a partner. Pretend each balloon is a tasty fruit or veggie in that color and name as you toss!
  • Paper Plates – use as a Frisbee or scatter a few on the ground and pretend to be a frog leaping from one to the other.
  • Paper – crunch up a piece of paper into a ball shape and practice shooting hoops into a small bucket or trash can.
  • Music -put some tunes on and join in with your kids! You will get to spend quality time and have fun with them as well as get your heart pumping.

Here’s to Active Play every day!

myplate_green

January is always a good time for a “Healthy Balance Check”. Start the year with a clean slate on the path to healthy habits. Have a MyPlate poster handy to discuss and have kids visualize healthy balance with eating choices. Also point out what isn’t found on MyPlate such as high sugar foods and beverages (soft drinks, syrups, candy, cookies, cakes, pastries).

Hear – See – Do Activities

  1. Have kids check current eating habits. Draw MyPlate on a paper plate. For each meal think about whether or not there is good balance with all food groups. One simple reminder for each meal is to fill half our plates with fruits and veggies.
  2. Because an important part of healthy balance is balancing food (energy in) with active play (energy out), on the back of the paper plate have kids write the activities and number of times they do them each week.
  3. Ask kids to set an easy to reach healthy goal. For example, one more fruit or veggie choice or one less soft drink each day.

randomimage_leftIf it’s been a while since you’ve addressed nutrition in your classroom, use this activity to bring healthy eating back in focus with the kids you lead.

Adapted from Balance My Day™ nutrition curriculum, Grades 3-5, Lesson 2


Explain that healthy eating means choosing a healthy plate (food from all 5
MyPlate food groups: Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Dairy, Protein) with less of those foods high in fat and added sugar.

Divide kids into teams and give each team 10 or more food cards or magazine pictures (representing a variety of food groups).

Ask the teams to use the cards/pictures to create a meal that has all 5 MyPlate food groups. Provide the MyPlate poster for kids to view.

Ask each team to present the meal they created and explain the ease or difficulty of choosing a meal with foods from all 5 food groups.

Encourage kids to think about and try to eat a variety of foods from the 5 food groups at their meals.

 

 

Moving into the holiday season, take a look at “where you are” with your own healthy behaviors. Choose this time to reassess and set goals for healthy eating and physical activity.

Blog photo

Use the Cigna-HKC Mix Six for Healthy Balance Toolkit that focuses on 6 key healthy behaviors to guide you. Click on the Getting Started tab of the digital magazine for the introduction.

Next, click on the right arrow to get to the Personal Healthy Habit Inventory and take time to complete it.

Move on to My Healthy Habit Goals page and think about the goals you would like to achieve from the 6 key healthy behaviors listed.

Use the rest of the toolkit to focus on specific behaviors. Each section provides simple tips and ideas for individuals and families working toward a healthier lifestyle.

clapYou know it’s coming…as Thanksgiving and winter break approach kids get fidgety and need more help focusing on school work. Below are three HEAR-SEE-DO ideas to help kids re-focus.

Help kids hear the message that an active break helps them refocus on school work.
Let them see examples of quick and easy movements they can try.
Let them do by performing active play brain breaks.

  1. Crossovers (right & left brain exercises) – Have kids move their right elbow across their body to their left knee as they are raising it. Touch and resume to standing. Do the same with the left elbow and right knee. Repeat these 2 movements back and forth continuously for 2-3 minutes.

  2. Pencil Jumps – For a quick movement break between lessons have each student place a pencil on the floor. On command kids are to jump over their pencil a designated number of times.

  3. Over, Under, In-Between – For younger elementary kids, have them hop over, crawl under or walk (skip, gallop) in-between various items in the classroom.

 

 

physical education

In Flemingsburg, KY this HKC Balance My Day Training helped staff pick up where they left off at the last training: problem-solving to make wellness a priority in the school district.

The district’s Food Service Director and Managers, P.E. Teachers, a Cooperative Extension staff person and Youth Service Center workers worked all day to find creative solutions for the schools, such as:

How to teach kids and get them involved in healthy eating choices.

  1.  Use school menus in the classrooms for math, science and P.E. activities.
  2. Involve students in helping to publicize menus. One cafeteria was named using student input.

How to get more students to eat breakfast.

  1. Purchase mobile carts, which feature “grab and go breakfasts”.
  2. “Fuel Up to Play 60” Grant from the National Dairy Council.
  3. Staff at training all participated in an active game-one that can be used in P.E. or classrooms-that teaches kids to identify breakfast barriers and solutions.

As we broke for lunch, I saw a classroom full of kindergarten students run excitedly into the gym ready to move. Knowing that school staff have “ready to implement plans” for including healthy eating and fun physical activity as part of the whole school day assures me that Flemingsburg Students will have that kind of enthusiasm all school day long!

It was exciting to hear one Food Service Manager say that because of the recent district decision to provide free meals to all students, she feels like the district already puts wellness at the top of their priority list.

“Training provided us with useful information to help get staff, kids, Superintendent involved.” -School Food Service Staff

“Well executed and powerful ideas for help of the environment.”-Youth Service Center Worker

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