Healthy Ever After
|April 28, 2013||Posted by Carrie under kids, nutrition|
I’ve mentioned a few times how I coordinate a nutrition program at my son’s elementary school. We just wrapped up the program for the year and I wanted to share a few things from this amazing program.
First, it’s a program developed by a Dietitian at our local hospital. This particular RD is also an instructor at the college where I was taking dietetics classes last year. She is amazing and the program that she put together was fantastic. The hospital received a grant for her time and the materials for the program. Each elementary school in the district was invited to participate. I think there were 11 schools that participated this year in the first full year of the program (they ran it for a few months last year). The schools had to provide a parent coordinator (that was me at our school) as well as volunteer docents to teach the lessons. There were 5 lessons through the year. As docents, we attended a training one week and then taught the lesson to the students the following week. We were also given a healthy snack to serve to the students that went along with our lesson. Each lesson lasted about 30 minutes and we taught slightly different material to grades K-2 compared to grades 3-5.
baked chips and guacamole – the snack for the healthy fats lesson
The lessons for the year were: 1) my plate 2) grains 3) fruits and vegetables 4) sugar 5) fats
The lessons were amazing. They involved skits, posters, songs, recipes, hands on activities and more. The central theme of the lessons were that all food is good in moderation. We learned to give suggestions about moderation and balance. We talked about all the good things that healthy foods do for the kids, we talked about how physical activity is equally important and we exposed the kids to foods they may not have had before.
I’m not sure of the exact status of this part, but the dietitian who developed the program has either submitted a proposal to present about it (or it has possibly already been selected) at the FNCE Conference in Houston this fall. So, any of my RD friends reading – go see her presentation, it’s a wonderful program. The program’s official title is Healthy Ever After, developed by Emily Parker, RD at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
At my son’s school, since this was a new program, we had a little bit of a challenge recruiting docents. We have 16 classes and many months I had to fill in some gaps and wound up teaching at least 4 classes. While that was fun, it was also exhausting since I also coordinated everything and had to corral the other docents and coordinate food pick up and the transferring of lesson materials, let alone the volunteers who don’t always read instructions carefully and would email me or call me with last minute questions. Sigh.
It was a lot of work, but hugely rewarding.
It was rewarding to teach a class of 1st graders and ask them why it’s important to include dairy in their diets, to have them answer quickly that milk will give them strong bones!
It was rewarding to do a lesson that included reading nutrition labels with the 4th grade class to help them identify the false nutrition claims on processed food packages.
It was rewarding to offer the kids a snack of broccoli and tomatoes with ranch dip to have a student say “I never tried a tomato, this is good.”
It was rewarding to walk into the classroom and hear the kids quietly say to each other, “yay, it’s the healthy snack lesson.”
It was rewarding to work with kids during the sugar lesson and to help them get an idea of all the sources of sugar they consume in the day – we read ketchup labels and found sugar, we looked at juice drink labels and sports drink labels and talked about the total sugar they should consume during a day.
It was amazing to teach a lesson that divided foods up into two categories: “always” and “sometimes”. There was never talk about “never” having something. It was structured as there are foods that you could always eat, and foods that should only be eaten sometimes. So practical!
I could go on and on.
It was a great program. I was able to recruit a few students from the Cal State Long Beach Dietetics Program to fill in the gaps on our docent needs. There were a few of the students that were amazing and followed through with the whole year. Nothing like a competitive program filled with people needing volunteer activities to help fill a need.
Now my biggest project is finding a parent to lead the charge next year. I have my hands full with a few other projects next year and my son will be in 5th grade, so it’s time to start passing the torch. I’d love to continue to be a docent and at least teach his class. I love that this program was a very interactive and practical introduction to nutrition in a very comfortable setting. All of the volunteers involved were passionate about teaching kids healthy habits at a young age.
Broccoli and tomato snack for the fruits and veggie lesson
Does your child’s school have a program like this?