Posts Tagged ‘coordinated school health’


The Top 5 Worst Kids’ Lunch Foods

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

When it comes to providing kids with the best nutrition to keep them going strong, traditional PE programs alone may not suffice. Since kids are notorious for being picky eaters, this can make it difficult as a parent or after school program coordinator to find foods that kids will enjoy eating and that are healthy for them as well. Teaching healthy eating habits is just one of several elements of a coordinated school health program. Whether it’s the ingredients, labeling, or nutritional value, learn why each of the popular kids’ foods listed below that can actually do more harm than good in fighting childhood obesity.

Top 5 Worst Lunch Foods

3 More Nutrition Education Questions Answered…

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

This week we’re excited to feature three more nutrition education questions answered by our partner Healthy Kids Challenge- enjoy!

1) Can what I eat (as a teacher) affect what my kids eat?

Yes, it can and it does! Research tells us that being a positive role model is important if we want to change behaviors. If you want children to eat right, then model healthy eating behaviors. And not just in the school cafeteria! Children see you before and after school and in the classroom, so you must “walk the walk” if you expect them to do the same. For simple tips on healthy role modeling at school see www.healthykidschallenge.com.

2) Is it possible to integrate regular academic subjects into nutrition/health instruction?

You bet! And it’s simple, too! Healthy Kids Challenge offers curriculum, training, and resources to help you do just that. Our nutrition education curriculum, Balance My Day, is a research-based curriculum aligned with HECAT (Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool) Healthy Eating Behavior outcomes and standards. With Balance My Day nutrition education doesn’t need to be an add-on, it can easily be integrated into math, science and language!

Also, HKC offers an exciting menu of nutrition themed workshops for you to choose from. All are designed to bring nutrition education to life for your students and staff. The workshop “Balance My Day” guides you through simple solutions of how to easily incorporate nutrition education into the school day. We offer an array of free downloadable and affordable resources as well. For more information, visit www.healthykidschallenge.com.

3) Where can I find resources for a year-long nutrition education curriculum?

Healthy Kids Challenge is the source for nutrition education curriculum. Balance My Day- Nutrition Education Curriculum is research-based curriculum aligned with HECAT (Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool) Healthy Eating Behavior outcomes and standards.

  • Offers 30 lessons, divided into 15-25 minute sessions.
  • Behavior themes focus on breakfast, snacks, beverages, portion sizes, fruits and veggies, active play, energy balance, body image, weight management and food skills
  • Nutrition education doesn’t need to be an add on, it can easily be integrated into math, science and language with Balance My Day
  • Goal setting, skill building, take home activities, parent tip sheets, food skills and tasting activities, logs, worksheets and student assessment included
  • Bonus additions are three nutrition education event guides and a set of 156 food picture cards for food identification, bulletin boards, or nutrition education games
  • Learn more

Healthy Kids Challenge (HKC), is a nationally recognized non-profit led by an exemplary team of registered, licensed dietitians with many years of school, program, and community wellness experience.

Reduce Screen-Time with “Screen-Time Vouchers”

Monday, December 13th, 2010

As a father, a physical educator, and a family health advocate, I know that managing children’s screen-time is a critical but often challenging aspect of family wellness.

That’s why we’ve begun to develop screen-time management tools like SPARK’s Screen-Time Vouchers. We feel it’s especially timely to share this resource as we hit the holiday gift-giving season. Each year more video games, handheld devices, and video screens top children’s gift lists.

Teachers, share this resource with your students’ families. Parents and caregivers, consider using screen-time vouchers to help manage family zombie zones. SPARK’s Screen-Time Vouchers help families align with 3 of the WeCan! Strategies for reducing screen time.

  1. Talk to your family. Use these vouchers to start and continue a conversation with your kids about why it’s important to limit screen time and increase activity time.
  2. Log Screen Time vs. Active Time. By turning in Screen-Time Vouchers, children are easily tracking time spent focusing on screens.
  3. Set Screen Limits. These vouchers instantly set parameters around screen-based devices and help families enforce screen-time rules.

Here are 3 important notes as we build off the great work of WeCan!

  • Set a Good Example. It’s “move it or lose it” time. If you don’t prove your point by moving your gluteus, you’ll lose credibility with your kids. Make vouchers valuable by proving their value with your example.
  • Next, don’t over emphasize vouchers by treating screen-time as a reward. Screen-time vouchers are tools for teaching responsible health management, just like an allowance is used to teach financial responsibility.
  • Finally, consider active screen-time separately. Nothing replaces the social interaction of real-live pick-up games or activity at the park. However, active video games are a great alternative to muscle melting sedentary ones. Plus, they’re pretty fun. For full benefits, participate with your children. You’ll sweat, laugh, and bond the new-school way.

Click Here to download SPARK’s Screen-Time Vouchers. Check back with SPARK often for new resources and ideas.

Have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season.

Aaron Hart

Development Director

The SPARK Programs

Healthy Eating Tip Sheets for Parents

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Guest Blog Post from our Nutrition Education Partner, Healthy Kids Challenge (HKC):

Childhood obesity statistics are alarming. Our Nutrition Education Partner Healthy Kids Challenge (HKC) challenges you to go beyond a focus on the obesity problem and Take Action with simple solutions that can help improve health for ALL kids and their families.

Use HKC healthy tips, newsletter, E-Challenge, toolkits, and programs to create or improve school, organization, and community policies and practices that support healthy food choices and physical activity.  Download their newest Health and Nutrition Parent Tip Sheet: “Fruits & Veggies – Every Day the Tasty Way”.

Come back for another new tip sheet the first week of every month. Enjoy these simple solutions to better health! Visit the online store for the whole set (18) of Healthy6 parent tip sheets!

For more information on our partner Healthy Kids Challenge Click Here

Study: Physically Active Kids Perform Better Academically

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

kids-in-schoolFor children, it’s important to begin a regular routine of healthy exercise as early as possible to help them perform at their best. However, such activity is a means of improving more than just the body through building muscle strength and endurance. In fact, many studies are now showing that children who are physically active also perform better in the classroom.

Over the past decade, the positives of physical education are helping students and teachers to feel good about taking a break from the usual classroom environment and get moving. The original SPARK study is still the only NIH study to positively link physical education and academics and conclude that more time spent in physical education class did not result in a decrease in academic performance (SPARK study in Research Quarterly – Click Here).

Below is a short list of sources that have linked staying in shape with staying ahead in the classroom. And for more resources (articles/publications/webinars) on the link between physical activity and academic performance you can Click Here .   (Image Source)

1. The National Association for Sport and Physical Education notes a 2001 California Department of Education study that correlates school performance with maintaining good physical condition. Student standardized achievement test scores were compared to the state required fitness test, known as the FitnessGram.  Pupils being evaluated underwent the scrutiny of this test, as provided by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research. Different traits such as aerobic capacity, body composition, flexibility and more were measured. Results of the study found a direct relationship between physical fitness and improved academic achievement, especially in the area of mathematics. Findings also suggested that family involvement in physical activity with children outside of school helps to reinforce and foster life-long fitness habits.

2. For standardized math and English tests, studies have shown that children achieve more when they are able to pass a number of fitness tests. This finding published in the School of Journal Health studied a group of students between the 2004 and 2005 school year. Pupils performed better in both reading and math when they were also involved in ongoing athletic activities, regardless of gender or ethnicity. The idea that physical exertion will detract from a student’s studies is quickly becoming null and void, thanks to indicators such as these. Corresponding results help secure the belief that fitness programs may actually serve to enhance academic performance.

3. A 2005 report by the California Department of Education cites evidence that healthy, fit children are more prone to attend school and perform better than their sedentary peers. In response, the department encourages schools to make physical education an essential goal. This report expresses concern over the obesity epidemic amongst children in the United States, as well as illnesses it can cause later in life, such as heart disease and diabetes, among others. Physical education allows students to improve their bone density and motor skills, as well as boosts self esteem through exercise. The report further calls for legislation to continue ongoing support of health programs and improved nutrition for students while on campus. Emphasis on making sure that physical education teachers have the ability to give students the highest quality experience available is provided. Textbooks are available to help outline the skills that students should be learning from such programs.

4. The American College of Sports Medicine noted a 2006 study that supports the relationship between increased activity in children and higher grades. Children who participated in hearty exercise for no less than 20 minutes, three or more days a week, exhibited higher grades.  Those involved in less strenuous activities for 30 minutes over five days per week did not achieve the same improved grade results. Researchers advise the incorporation of strenuous physical activities into school programs and recommend teachers and parents assist students in balancing fitness programs alongside academic pursuits.

5. The California Journal of Health Promotion published findings in 2006 regarding explanations as to why physical education and academic achievement are associated.  A study was cited by California State University researchers who compared differences between schools that made fitness a priority and those that did not. When standardized pupil test scores were analyzed, it was determined that the leading schools also had formal, structured physical education programs based on the State Board of Education guidelines. Conversely, the lowest academic performing schools did not even have gym teachers.  The case for preserving physical education programs during school cutbacks is made, as well as the case for improving children’s health prospects in the future by remaining active.

6. A 2010 report in Science Daily cited a medical study presented at a conference for the American Heart Association that links physical fitness to better school performance.  For students who remain fit throughout their schooling years, there is a better chance of increased academic achievement. Standardized tests for students over time show that the students who perform best do so when they remain fit across different grade levels. Students should receive at least an hour of physical activity per day, with curriculum appropriate for their age group. Research indicates that healthier, happier children become fit adults as a result.

Conclusion

With the dangers of sedentary lifestyles becoming more apparent, it’s no wonder that exercise is being championed for all school-age students. Multiple scientific studies prove that there is more to academic performance than just book learning. The amount of exercise pupils receive in school can create positive habits that serve to compliment academic achievement. Promoting physical health in childhood can only serve to benefit our youth with the outcome of healthier bodies accompanied by brighter minds.

Fueling Student Success with Food and Fitness

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Brain breaks for better focus and concentration…

Healthy eating messages sprinkled throughout the school hallways, cafeteria, and classrooms…

Nutrition education woven into PE and core curriculum K-12…

Where is this happening? Check out West Orange, New Jersey school district!

“Teaching our students to maintain a healthy balance with eating and exercise is our top priority. The SPARK program is helping provide the tools and training to achieve this goal”, shared Corinn Giaquinto, Health and Physical Education instructor, Thomas Edison Middle School, West Orange, New Jersey.

Hats off to Thomas A. Edison Middle School and their entire school district in West Orange. The district has been using SPARK in their physical education department for some time and recently received a grant from Mountainside Health Foundation to fuel student success by adding nutrition education.

Vickie L. James, Registered Dietitian and Director of Healthy Kids Challenge (HKC), the exclusive nutrition education partner for SPARK, was the trainer for the West Orange training, the first ever SPARK and HKC nutrition education training.

“From classroom to PE to wellness council members K-12, the representation and enthusiasm shown at the workshop tells me the commitment this district has to student wellbeing. They truly understand the strategy of using good nutrition and physical activity to create a culture of health in the schools that can do nothing short of fueling student success. This was the first of many great moments down the road for West Orange Schools.”

If your school district is ready to accelerate student achievement by combining physical activity and nutrition education, contact SPARK today. Full day SPARK/HKC nutrition education trainings as well as a new nutrition curriculum in three grade ranges, K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 all are available through SPARK.  Healthy Kids Challenge trainings are tailored to meet school needs for successful implementation of realistic wellness policies, school improvement plans, and TEAM Nutrition guidelines. And SPARK/HKC help you achieve the required criteria for the HealthierUS School Challenge program.

The HKC curriculum, Balance My Day, was developed to align with all HECAT (Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool) standards for nutrition education. This is a new requirement for PEP grant awardees and you won’t find many nutrition education programs that address it.

Stay tuned for exciting happenings and updates from West Orange schools! SPARK and HKC wish them well in their commitment to student health!

Coordinated School Health- Motivation for Change

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

SPARK recently completed a 2-year research study in Louisville, KY for our Coordinated School Health Initiative. Coordinated School Health is an approach to school health that improves students’ health and their capacity to learn through the support of families, schools, and communities working together.

The SPARK research study was designed to pilot our programs and research their effectiveness with elementary schools. Intervention schools were provided curriculum, equipment, and materials in addition to staff development to implement the programs. The desired outcomes of the project were to increase student physical activity levels, health knowledge and improve health behaviors. For teachers and staff the focus was to increase the quality and quantity of nutrition, health and physical education levels as well as improving their own health.

Although the results of the research project won’t be released until this fall, one of the intervention schools has used this opportunity as a springboard to making some significant additions to their school. Locust Grove Elementary has recently partnered with two local hospitals to fund a full-time nutrition education teacher and provide a weekly class for all K-5 students. In addition to adding a nutrition component to their curriculum, they have created a Minds in Motion Lab for physical activity where students will spend 10 minutes a day going through different stations to improve their coordination, motor skill development, balance, and rhythm. The goal of this program is to increase the quantity of physical activity as well as to prepare the brain for learning. Locust Grove also has several policies now in place to support the healthy school environment. The two most significant policies state that all teachers must provide 20 minutes of physical activity every day, and food is not allowed in classrooms for classroom celebrations or to be used as a reward for students.

Making these types of changes requires a commitment not only from the administration to pass the policies and fund the programs, but from the school staff to implement the policies and from the parents to support the changes. Would you like to improve your school environment using the Coordinated School Health Model? Give us a call at SPARK to find out where to start!

-Jeff Mushkin
Project Specialist/Trainer

SPARK Supports White House Task Force Report on Childhood Obesity

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

In February, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move! campaign to solve the childhood obesity epidemic within one generation. As part of this effort, President Barack Obama established the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to develop and implement an inter agency plan that details a coordinated strategy, identifies key benchmarks, and outlines an action plan to end the problem of childhood obesity within a generation.

The report, titled Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation, includes Early Childhood Education, Physical Education and Physical Activity recommendations. SPARK is already well aligned with the recommendations in this report!

Early Childhood Education

“Young children need opportunities to be physically active through play and other activities. Physical activity assists children in obtaining and improving fine and gross motor skill development, coordina¬tion, balance and control, hand-eye coordination, strength, dexterity, and flexibility—all of which are necessary for children to reach developmental milestones.
Preschool years, in particular, are crucial for obesity prevention due to the timing of the development of fat tissue, which typically occurs from ages 3-7…. Features of the child care center environment, including policies regarding activity and provider training, as well as the presence of portable and fixed play equipment, influence the amount of physical activity children engage in while at child care.”

  • SPARK Early Childhood is designed specially for children ages 3-5 years to increase physical activity and development
  • SPARK EC was one of the first large-scale, urban efforts to evaluate a comprehensive physical activity program for the 3-5 age group. The project concluded in winter 2004, and showed the SPARK EC program was very well received by the Head Start teachers, increased students’ moderate to vigorous activity levels to over 50% of class time, and improved the number of minutes children engaged in activity throughout the day.

School-Based Approaches to Increasing Physical Activity

“Schools are a key setting to focus on, given the significant portion of time children spend there. Schools can undertake a combination of strategies and approaches to help children be more active including:
– Creating infrastructure and policies that increase access to and encourage physical activity for all students;
– Collecting valid and reliable data and using analytical tools and systems to understand student needs and fitness levels, and promoting approaches that are effective in changing physical activity behaviors and, ultimately, health outcomes;
– Maintaining strong physical education (PE) programs that engage students in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 50% of PE class time;
– Providing a variety of activities and specific skills so that students can be physically active not just during class but throughout the day and year; and
– Providing qualified school professionals who are trained in teaching methods to engage stu¬dents in PE, including for students who face greater barriers to activity.”

  • SPARK physical education and activity programs have been proven to increase levels of MVPA, physical fitness, motor skill development, student enjoyment of the program and academic achievement
  • SPARK was recently identified as a successful model for combating childhood obesity in the report, “Fighting Obesity: What Works, What’s Promising” by the HSC Foundation. The report speaks of SPARK’s history, practice, and methods. SPARK was the ONLY program recommended for physical education AND physical activity.
  • SPARK is the ONLY National Institute of Health (NIH) researched program available providing coordinated curriculum, training, follow up support, and equipment for Pre-K through 12th grade teachers.
  • A Child Trends report titled “What Works for the Prevention and Treatment of Obesity Among Children”, highlights SPARK as a program that has proven to increase physical activity among students.

Physical Education

“Physical Education (PE) is considered the cornerstone of a school-based comprehensive physical activity program. It provides the basis and opportunity for young people to gain the knowledge and skills needed to maintain physically active lifestyles throughout childhood and into adulthood. A quality PE program can increase student participation in physical activity, increase their physical fitness, and enhance their understanding about the purpose and methods of physical activity. Participation in daily PE is associated with an increased likelihood of participating regularly in moderate to vigorous physical activity.”

  • SPARK Physical Education is an award-winning, research-based program that has been proven to increase activity levels, knowledge, skills, and fitness. SPARK elementary physical education is the ONLY nationally-disseminated program that positively affects ALL of these student outcomes:
    • Academic Achievement
    • Activity levels (moderate to vigorous surpasses 50% of class time)
    • Fitness achievement
    • Sport Skills development
    • Enjoyment of PE
  • SPARK’s the only PE program that has data to show students statistically significantly increase their Fitness gram scores.
  • SPARK activities can be integrated throughout the school day to help your school provide physical education daily

Nutrition Education

“More, and better, nutrition education is needed in many schools. While approximately 75% of schools require nutrition education as part of health curriculum requirements, the time spent on nutrition and dietary behavior has declined in recent years, and funding has been limited. Many teachers are not equipped with the skills and knowledge to integrate and promote nutrition education into their classroom curricula. Research has shown that nutrition education interventions, if well designed and effectively implemented can improve dietary behaviors.”

  • SPARK has teamed up with Healthy Kids Challenge and Healthy Lifestyle Choices to provide nutrition and health education curriculum and training programs
  • Healthy Kids Challenge is a nationally recognized non-profit led by an exemplary team of registered, licensed dietitians with many years of school, program, and community wellness experience
  • Healthy Lifestyle Choices curriculum is flexible and provides a variety of scheduling and implementation options for busy elementary teachers

URGENT- Advocate for Quality Physical Education!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Urgent Request- deadline of March 26th!


Advocate for Quality Physical Education as part of the NCLB reauthorization (ESEA)

The U. S. House Education and Labor Committee is collecting comments regarding the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (formally No Child Left Behind) reauthorization. In an effort to have Physical Education addressed and included in the reauthorization, your participation is extremely necessary. This is crucial as our country is at a very critical point and we can NOT miss this opportunity.

Please take a few moments to send the following points to the email address below. Now is the chance many of you have been waiting for and it is a small window of opportunity. Please let our Federal Leaders know how important physical education is to our students and their health.

eseacomments@mail.house.gov

Please identify your group or identify yourself as a supporter of quality physical education.

Please request that the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act should:

  • Refocus the newly developed Successful, Safe and Healthy Students section to a Coordinated School Health Approach extending the already proposed activities to provide a critical facility in which many agencies might work together to maintain the well-being of young people.
  • Include the text of the FIT Kids Act, requiring schools to report on the quality and quantity of physical education, physical education facilities, teacher accreditation, and physical education curriculum;
  • Require all physical education teachers to be licensed in physical education;
  • Include physical education standards as part of the core curricula all students need especially when developing assessments for student growth; and
  • Maintain the Carol M. White Physical Education Program as a stand-alone grant program, with minimum funding of $100 million.

Remember This Date.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

February 9, 2010. Write this down; make a mental note; consider it significant. This is the date that First Lady Michelle Obama announced her “Let’s Move” initiative to eliminate childhood obesity in a generation. It was all over the news. But you may have missed another announcement that is even more significant. The President appointed a Task Force on Childhood Obesity consisting of leaders of multiple federal departments and agencies. 2/9/10 is the day that all of our efforts to get kids active, fit, and healthy got a name, some celebrity, and some power.

This is a one-two punch of focus and power. The spotlight will now be strong. This is our best chance in a long time to make great progress on our shared vision of active healthy kids.

If, like me, you have been working for a long time to help children be active and healthy, we have been waiting for our concerns to be at the top of the national agenda. We can be proud that we have been on the right path and pursued a noble cause. But movement and change have been too slow. That is likely to change now. People in power want to listen to us now. They have joined our quest.

But progress will not be easy. Many Americans don’t think the country needs to change to provide more opportunities for kids to be active and to remove barriers to safe physical activity. Many people have a “just do it” mentality—it is a parent’s job to serve good food and tell the child to be active. But when good food is not in your neighborhood, no parks are in your neighborhood, traffic is too fast, and PE has been cut from the school day, what is a parent going to do? All Americans face barriers to being active, and it should be our goal to make it more convenient, safer, and more enjoyable to be active every day.

But the place to start is PE. This is the one program that can affect every child every day. PE needs to be active, and it needs to be taught by well-trained teachers. We know this works, and we can improve PE quickly. SPARK has been helping schools deliver activity-promoting PE for over 15 years. SPARK is ready and able to do more. Today, it was announced that the state of Florida received about $2 million to provide SPARK PE to every middle school in the state! One of the four goals of Let’s Move is to provide more opportunities for physical activity, and SPARK will help achieve it.

Our jobs are not finished. We cannot sit back and think the President and First Lady will make sure excellent PE is in every school; they will not eliminate childhood obesity on their own. We need to work harder, but our work is likely to have more of an effect now. It is up to us as educators, experts in PE and physical activity, parents, and members of our communities to support Let’s Move. We need to speak up. We need to keep information, good ideas, success stories, and good news about PE, physical activity, and solutions to childhood obesity visible in every communication channel all around the country. Please do your part. Sign on at http://www.letsmove.gov/ and send your thoughts to the First Lady.

Make 2/9/10 the day that you became a more vocal advocate for active healthy kids.

Jim Sallis
www.drjamessallis.sdsu.edu