Guest Post by Jessica Lawernce
As I hear stories of districts’ dire need to balance a budget that is hurting and has been hurting for years and years, I hear that some might cut the one content area that not only could have prevented the widespread infection rates of COVID-19, but could have helped so many young people and adults cope, advocate, & access to keep themselves and loved ones safe… health education.
Many adults outside the education field still remember their health education experience as memorizing the bones of the body, or learning about the birds & the bees in binary male/female groupings. School administrators still stereotype health education as a thorn in their side with controversial topics such as addiction, suicide and sex education. This is not what current, quality health education is about anymore. In fact, if you haven’t viewed Andy Milne’s TEDx, This is Not Your Parent’s Health Class, watch it now! His message is delivered in three parts – an apology for many of the bad practices from health class, a message of hope from the direction in which todays health class is focused, and a plea for community members to embrace our students for their passion, vision and drive so that together we can improve the health of our community.
In this short and sweet crash course, we’ll give you a quick run-down of what nutrients are, and why they are essential for our health.
One of the best ways to keep from getting sick is to eat foods that boost our immune system! It is important to incorporate a variety of whole foods into your child’s diet, and encourage them to eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support healthy body functions. However, certain nutrients are known for keeping our immune system strong, like Vitamin C, which helps build the white blood cells responsible for fighting off infections, and destroys free-radicals in the body. Beta-carotene, Vitamin D, and Zinc are also known to increase immune function!
Here are some quick and easy snacks that put the Vitamin “C” in deliCious!
Do your kids have the shelter-in-place blues? Just because we have to stay at home doesn’t mean we have to be bored!
Here are 5 fun activities for kids you can do from your own home that help our little ones move their bodies and stimulate their brains.
Craft an art project:
Listen to a story:
Do a science experiment:
Make a snack:
You can find these activities and much more on our website at https://www.healthstartfoundation.org/snackscience.html.
2. Practice Reading Skills with a Scavenger Hunt
Ahoy Mateys! Do you want to learn vocabulary words and hunt for treasure at the same time? If you have a child who is practicing reading skills, try setting up an indoor scavenger hunt!
3. Experience the Animal Kingdom
You don’t have to go outside to learn about nature! Bring nature to your child by having them learn about different animals.
4. Take a Nature Walk
Feeling a little stir-crazy? Gather the whole family and take a walk outside to check out the area around you! This is a great opportunity for kids to learn about different landforms, plants, and animals as well as practice observation skills in order to discover and identify the unique qualities of what they see.
5. Create a Sock Puppet Theatre
This activity is fantastic because it is a combination of a crafting, writing, and dramatic play rolled into one!
Do you have a favorite stay-at-home activity for kids? Feel free to share it below in the comments for other families to see. Be sure to join our Snack Science Video Series and try out these activities so we can stay healthy and strong together, at home!
References: Richards, Mari. "7 Super Fun DIY Sock Puppets." Handmade Charlotte, March 4th, 2014. https://www.handmadecharlotte.com/7-diy-sock-puppets/
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Mother’s Day has always been a special day to celebrate and give thanks to the women who have dedicated their life to making our lives the best they can be. What’s the best way to thank them you may ask? There is no gift in the world that could express how thankful we are for everything our moms have done and continue to do for us.
As said in the song “Mama, A Rainbow”,
“What do you give to the lady who has given
All her life and love to you
What do you give to the reason you are livin'
I could window shop the world
Before I'm through”
Time and time again I’m reminded that the best gift we can give is our love. In honor of Mother’s Day, I asked a couple mothers what they like most about being a mom. Here’s what they said…
Lots of articles and experts have recommended that you minimize your trips to the grocery store and stock up on non perishable food items. Many of you might think that means healthy eating is out the window, but prioritizing nutritious food is both possible and extremely important in helping our bodies fight off infection.
Below are 3 tips to help you stock up during quarantine and stay healthy.
See a detailed list of pantry and freezer staples plus recipe ideas at https://bit.ly/3btUNd2.
What are staples in your pantry or freezer? Let us know in the comments below.
March 22, 2020 is World Water Day, a nationwide event that celebrates water and how important it is for our environment and for our bodies. Did you know that more than 60% of the human body is made up of water? The amount of water you should drink every day varies from person to person depending on factors such as overall body size and level of activity. Although there’s no single formula for everyone, most health authorities recommend drinking 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day, for a total of 64 ounces.
If you or your child are having a hard time drinking enough water, World Water Day is the perfect day to learn about how essential water is for our bodies. Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of hydration and fun ways to incorporate more water into our busy lives.
March is National Nutrition Month and we are joining the fun to share with you what good nutrition means to us here at HealthStart. It’s never too early to teach your child healthy food habits, as these habits will benefit them the rest of their lives. Here are three words we would use to describe good nutrition:
What does nutrition mean to you and your family? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Get more information and see how you can be involved with National Nutrition Month at https://sm.eatright.org/NNMinfo.
HealthStart has expanded to South Texas!
In January 2020 the HealthStart Foundation launched a pilot of the “What Are You Feeding?” (WAYF) Cafeteria Nutrition Education Program in 7 Kingsville area elementary schools with a generous grant from the L’Aiglon Foundation. The L’Aiglon Foundation is located in Kingsville, Texas and has supported programs in Kingsville schools and community efforts since 1982.
The WAYF pilot program will take place in four Kingsville area Independent School Districts: Driscoll ISD, Kingsville ISD, Ricardo ISD, and Santa Gertrudis ISD.The pilot program will reach over 2680 elementary school students. The goal is to help students make good choices about what they eat.
The WAYF program uses colorful stickers of each body system placed on the cafeteria food line to illustrate how different foods take care of different parts of the body. These visual cues help students make the connection between the food they eat and their health.
In addition to the stickers, HealthStart has added two new elements to help reinforce the concepts and ideas of the program. Each day during morning announcements, the principal will highlight which cafeteria offerings are particularly good for the students’ brain, bones, circulatory system, muscles and digestive systems using a customized menu template.
Also, children in 2nd - 4th Grades will be given a “scorecard” to keep track of which parts of their bodies they have fed for one week every month from February through May. The goal is for students to meet ⅓ of their nutritional needs during lunch by feeding each body system every day.
"The kids are already talking about it in the cafeteria and had a lot of fun filling out their scorecards. They get excited to find out what body system each food feeds." said Marci Braswell, Principal, Ricardo ISD
Why is this important?
During the 2 ½ year pilot program a team of evaluators from the University of Texas will be measuring changes in the students eating habits over time. Research has shown that when children eat better, they do better in school, behave better in the classroom, and are absent less. A study from the National Institute of Health concluded that children who consume higher quality nutrient diets made higher grades and missed fewer days of school compared with children whose diets were of poor quality. This link shows the importance of adequate nutrient-dense foods in a child’s diet.
“We have a wonderful opportunity at Driscoll ISD to help our students learn how to make healthy food choices through the What Are You Feeding campaign. Driscoll students will be learning how to nourish their bodies through the food choices they make on a daily basis at school. It is our hope that this new knowledge will affect their food choices at home and help our students build lifelong healthy eating habits.” said Lynn Landenberger, Principal, Driscoll ISD
We could not be more excited for our partnership with Kingsville area schools and look forward to helping students build healthier futures!
HealthStart trained Boys and Girls Club of Georgetown (BGCG) staff this past fall so that they could integrate HealthStart’s Snack Science Children’s Health Education Workshop Series (CHEWS) into their after school programming. The first Snack Science series was implemented with 6-7 year old students.
The kids who participated in the first Snack Science workshops liked it so much that they asked to do it again in Spring. Their teacher told us that she found the program easy to implement and the activities to be fun and engaging for her students.
BGCG staff led 5 workshops, 1 for each body system: brain, bones, circulatory system, muscles, and digestion. During each workshop, students prepared a snack to feed the part of the body they had learned about. HealthStart staff helped BGCG throw a party at the end of the series to celebrate the student’s “graduation.” Party goers played “Brainfood Bingo” and competed for prizes and made Brain Burritos.
We thoroughly enjoyed working with both the kids and the staff of the BGCG and found that together we were able to make a meaningful impact on the children participating.
The children tried a variety of fresh and healthy foods. The 6 snacks they made contained 24 different foods. Over ¾ of the students tried at least 1 new food and ALL of them tried foods prepared in new ways during their Snack Science adventure.
Often when the students tried a familiar food that was prepared in a new or novel way, they like it. On average, 85% of children liked the snack they prepared.
We were thrilled to hear from BGCG staff that the kids who participated in the workshops last semester are still asking about them months later.
The BGCG staff recently kicked off the second series of CHEWS workshops, letting a whole new group of kiddos in on the fun!
If your organization is interested in learning more about implementing Snack Science in your after school or summer program, please contact Sharon Burley at email@example.com.