This year’s Every Kid Healthy™ Week is April 25-29. Are you ready?
Every Kid Healthy Week celebrates school health and wellness achievements. Each day of the week spotlights actions schools and families are taking to improve the health and wellness of their kids.
Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) provides plenty of ideas and activities for school and home. Each weekday has a topic and here are some ideas to go with them:
Mindful Monday – Social Emotional Health: Children (and adults) build resilience by practicing social-emotional health and mindfulness skills.
Tasty Tuesday – Nutrition and Food Access: Build lifelong healthy eating habits by exposing kids to new foods, healthy cooking, and growing their own produce.
Wellness Wednesday – Physical Activity and Active Play: Get Moving! Physical activity fuels the body and the mind.
Thoughtful Thursday – Equity Awareness: Create a school culture that celebrates diversity and works progressively towards creating a more equitable learning community.
Family Friday – Family-School Partnerships: Bring families and schools together to support child health at school and at home.
No matter how you celebrate Every Kid Healthy Week, post photos and videos from your events and activities on social media using the hashtags #EveryKidHealthyWeek and #TakeAction4HealthyKids.
Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD
We all know that healthy students are better learners. Healthy habits continue to pay off over the long term as kids grow up.
Our new Healthy Habit Wheel poster features habits in three categories — lifestyle, diet, and exercise — all centered on the Dietary Guidelines and the Physical Activity Guidelines.
Here are some ways to use the Healthy Habit Wheel with students in the classroom:
- Healthy Habit of the Week: The class works on one habit per week. Start the week off with a brainstorm session on how to achieve the habit. End the week with students reporting on how they did.
- Healthy Habit Thought Box: On a slip of paper, students write a sentence or two telling how they practiced a healthy habit (like drinking water at lunch instead of soda), then put it in a special box or basket. When the teacher has a few extra minutes during the day, they can pull out some entries to share with the class.
- Healthy Habit Inventory: Have students check off the habits they already do. Then they can design their own wheel with the habits they need to work on.
- Healthy Habit Journal: Students have a special notebook or document where they write about their journey around the Healthy Habit Wheel.
- Healthy Habit Expo: Break students up into small groups. Each group researches a habit, then presents their findings to the rest of the class.
Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD
Step challenges appeal to kids and adults, making them a popular way to encourage people to be more active. Spring is a great time to start a 10,000 Steps a Day Challenge – everyone’s ready to get outside!
Our 10K Steps theme has everything you need to run a step challenge in a school, workplace, or with clients. Make your step challenge unique, fun, effective, and educational for everyone with these five ways to change up your step challenge:
- Credit for every step: Some people don’t have a pedometer or fitness tracker, forget to wear it or carry it, or get frustrated because their favorite activity (maybe cycling or yoga) doesn’t show up in their step count.
- A solution? Use an activity conversion chart (like this one) to convert minutes of activity into steps.
- Learn what more steps can (and cannot) do: Throughout the step challenge, focus on the many health benefits of moving more. Be up-front about the fact that taking 10K steps/day is not going to burn off indulgences like sugary beverages and junk food.
- Our How Much to Work it Off? poster shows that exercise (or taking more steps) alone won’t help you reach weight loss goals. What you eat counts!
- Customize the challenge: 10K steps/day may not be realistic for many folks and it may be too easy for others. Let them know that taking more steps this week than they did last week is what counts.
- Create accountability: Set up a Facebook group or group text chat so participants can share their goals, motivate each other, and stay accountable.
- Generate excitement: Promote your step challenge everywhere with posters, banners, social media posts, and fun incentives (like wristbands and stickers).
Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD
Many people have changed their exercise routine due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are streaming their favorite aerobics class instead of attending in-person. Others are purchasing home fitness equipment.
But even if we find ways to keep up our gym routine when the gym is closed, what about how much we’re moving in general?
Think about all the steps we aren’t taking because of the pandemic. If you’re working from home, you’re not walking from the car or bus stop to your office. You’re not taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If you’re doing curbside grocery pickup, you’re not walking around the supermarket.
That’s where counting steps can be useful, making it the perfect time for a 10,000 steps challenge! We have everything you need in our 10,000 Steps theme:
Here are three ways to engage your clients, students, or employees in a conversation about taking more steps throughout the day:
- Make a plan to increase your steps now. It could look something like this:
- Step 1: Get a pedometer or a tracking device (like a Fitbit) or find out if your cell phone will work.
- Step 2: Track how many steps you’re taking every day for a week.
- Step 3: Make a goal to increase your steps per day by 1,000 (or more or less, just be realistic).
- Step 4: Track for a week and repeat, with the goal of getting up to 10,000 steps.
- Brainstorm ways to keep your steps up even in cold weather. Do you need a warmer coat? New gloves or a hat? Boots?
- Challenge a friend – at the end of the day, text each other about how many steps you took and what your goal is for the next day.
Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD
This phrase recently caught my attention: Little by little, a little becomes a lot. I even wrote it on a sticky note and put it on my refrigerator. It reminds me that small things count. They add up.
Meditating for just one minute; adding a baby spinach salad to a meal; walking around the block; cleaning one kitchen counter. Doing small things may not seem important at the moment, but over time they mean a lot. A healthier diet, more exercise, a cleaner house.
You probably have clients or patients who are all-or-nothing thinkers – they really need to hear this message! Especially now, when the pandemic disrupts our routines, and sometimes even the tiniest change feels overwhelming.
Our Change It Up theme goes well with this concept. Little by little, diet and exercise changes will add up to transform your life. It’s how you go from being the worn out fast-food caterpillar to the vibrant, beautiful butterfly.
Use the Change It Up concept to teach your clients, patients, or students that …
- The transformation isn’t instant, but the good feeling you get from one small change takes you one baby step closer.
- Get the good feeling by celebrating (yay, me!) when you make the choice to have an apple instead of chips.
- Change can be overwhelming, so start small by concentrating on doing something different for just one meal.
- Once a healthy breakfast becomes a daily habit, move on to lunch, dinner, or snacks.
- You can’t go from the couch to a 5K overnight.
- Going to the end of your driveway counts. Remember, small is good!
- Nobody is perfect. You’ll mess up and that’s okay.
- It’s easier to get back on track one small change at a time.
Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD
Back in January, we talked about setting a word for the year in lieu of new year’s resolutions. So much has happened since then – those words (and any resolutions) have probably been forgotten.
That’s ok, because September is much like the new year. Even if you don’t have children, there’s something about back-to-school time that feels like a fresh start.
Don’t miss this opportunity to engage your clients and students in choosing a new word or theme for the rest of the 2020. Be sure to set the right tone for the time we’re living in now:
- Don’t dwell on what you have or haven’t done during the pandemic – this is your chance for a do-over!
- Be realistic about what the rest of the year might bring, and how it may affect your goals.
- Focus on positive affirmations, like the ones on our I Am motivational poster. These gentle reminders can get you back on track to a life of health and well-being:
- Self-care: get enough sleep, forgive yourself for setbacks.
- Diet: eat mindfully when you’re hungry, love fruits & veggies.
- Physical activity: move more, be consistent.
- Attitude: don’t give up!
- Intention: make a plan and work toward success.
- Now is the time for your 2020 re-start! Like our Change It Up theme says:
- Eat healthier food + Be more active = You will feel transformed!
Hollis Bass, MEd, RD, LD
If you teach or work with kids, you probably know about STEM. It stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and we hear about it a lot in terms of preparing students for the jobs of the future. But did you also know that we can use STEM to teach HEPA?
If HEPA makes you think of filters and allergies, think again! It’s a handy way to say Healthy Eating and Physical Activity. HEPA-focused STEM activities give kids the skills they need to make healthy choices. That’s why STEM is on our list of hot topics for 2020.
There are many ways to incorporate HEPA into STEM programs. Here are just a few ideas:
- Use food for hands-on nutrition activities that engage students, like this simple activity from the Children’s Museum of Houston about fat in food: https://www.cmhouston.org/experiment-fat.
- Teach cooking. Learning how to cook healthy food is a skill that will last a lifetime. Check out our Learn to Cook Workbook. Students will learn STEM-related concepts like food safety, cooking methods, and how to follow a recipe. There are even cooking-related math problems!
- Sharpen math skills with nutrition and physical activity lessons. We have the all the materials you need to combine math with HEPA:
- Math of Fiber
- Sugar Math
- Sodium Math
- Food Label Math
- Math of Movement
- Calorie Math
- Talk to students about HEPA-related STEM careers. Find information on these jobs at StemJobs.com:
- Professional food forager
- Food scientist
- Health teacher
Be sure to check out our entire collection of STEM-related materials. Use nutrition science and math to teach students of all ages (including adults) to make healthy choices!
Physical activity is one of the keys to fighting prediabetes. Our Prediabetes Exercise poster outlines a three-prong approach based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association.
It seems simple enough: exercise for 150 minutes per week, throw in some strength training, and don’t sit too much. But for many folks, just the thought of working out can be overwhelming. One solution is to do exercise videos at home.
There are plenty of free exercise videos on YouTube, but your clients need direction to find the right ones. Here are some good choices to go along with the three prongs on our Prediabetes Exercise poster:
150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week:
- You can’t go wrong with any walking video by Leslie Sansone. There are so many to choose from, all free on YouTube. Here are a few basics:
- The National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life exercise videos are geared to seniors, but they’re also perfect for beginners and people with foot, ankle, knee, or hip issues:
- This 30-minute Low Impact YMCA workout sticks to the basics but is challenging enough for beginners of all ages.
- SparkPeople’s Seated Cardio Workout is not your grandmother’s chair exercise!
Resistance/strength training 2-3 times per week:
Three minutes of light activity every half hour while sitting:
And here are two bonus recommendations:
Exercise has lots of benefits, but it can’t make up for overindulging in not-so-healthy foods. When people say, I’ll burn it off at the gym later or I walked three miles this morning, they don’t understand that it’s not that simple. Most would be shocked to learn just how long they need to exercise to burn off those extra calories.
Our How Much to Work it Off? poster says it all – there is simply not enough time in the day to work off a bad diet. The poster features colorful pictures of foods with their calorie content and how many minutes of walking it takes to burn the calories. Just looking at the top row of pictures shows that the typical fast food meal of a quarter pound cheeseburger, large fries, and a large soda will take 3 hours and 19 minutes of walking to burn off. Talk about eye opening!
Whether you’re teaching a group or counseling one-on-one, make this concept personal by using an online calories burned calculator (like this one from WebMD). Show people how to look up calories burned for a specific activity based on their body weight. How many minutes of walking the dog will burn off last night’s dessert? How long will I need to swim to make up for that muffin I grabbed this morning? The answer is sure to make them think more about the food choices they make!
Although it’s important to get this message across, we don’t want to discourage people from being active, so be sure to include some of our fun physical activity materials as well. The Be Active Every Day exercise color handout tearpad is perfect for this, with guidelines and tips for kids and adults.
School’s out for summer, but kids can’t afford to take a break from healthy eating and staying active. Remind them to be active for 60 minutes a day and eat the MyPlate way with our MyPlate Kids and Physical Activity materials.
The MyPlate Kids Activity poster shows the many ways to get moving for 60 minutes every day, from stretching to walking the dog to playing a sport and more. There’s bound to be something that appeals to every child and inspires them to be active.
With the MyPlate graphic front and center, our materials will also remind kids to make each meal balanced, starting with plenty of high-fiber, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
If you’re at a health fair, in the classroom, or anywhere with kids, try one of these activities to get them moving, having fun, and learning:
- Put a colored dot on one side of small index cards, using the MyPlate colors (red, orange, green, purple, and blue). Turn the cards over so no one can see the colored dots. Let kids pick an index card to see what color they got. Then ask a series of questions, depending on their age and how much time you have. For example, if they pick red:
- What foods are in the red group? Answer: Fruit.
- What is your favorite fruit? Answer: Apples.
- What does the word apple start with? Answer: A.
- “Pretend your finger is a pencil and draw a huge A in the air.”
- For older kids, do the above activity, but have them “spell” out the whole name of the food. For fun, change it up – “pretend your foot/elbow/nose/knee is a pencil and draw a huge A in the air.”
- Write a variety of activities on index cards (different sports, running, jumping rope, hopping on one foot, etc). Each child picks an index card and does that activity in place (pretend to swing a bat, throw a ball, hop, etc).
Kids who participate can take home a Kids Activity and MyPlate bookmark to remind them to stay active and eat right all summer long.