Local spotlight: IU Health West Day Early Learning explores wellness with stories, songs, dolls
Matt Miller, director of IU Health West Day Early Learning, had a few doubts about teaching his pre-K students about biological organ functions.
What sense would young children make of stories and songs about characters like Hardy Heart and the Kidney Brothers? Would preschoolers really be able to make connections between a stuffed doll and their own health and wellness?
But Miller was pleasantly surprised by what happened when the class began regularly using the story books, dolls, and music that his center received as part of a grant from Anthem. The tools are part of two curriculum kits from OrganWise Guys, a health and nutrition program with research-proven impact on children’s waist circumferences, BMIs, blood pressure, and test scores.
A wellness program that strives to keep employees healthy is a strategic investment. To curb rising healthcare costs, many employers are advancing workplace health programs to:
- make improvements in the worksite environment,
- help employees adopt healthier lifestyles and,
- ultimately, lower the incidence of costly chronic diseases.
One of the first important steps in creating your employee wellness program is assessment of the work environment. What are your employee needs and preferences? What are your business goals and objectives? Where do nutrition and physical activity fit into the picture? What kind of timeline might be reasonable to accomplish this work?
There are a variety of assessment tools you can use. Here are four for you to consider:
What exactly do we mean when we talk about physical activity at daycare and preschool? How do you know if you provide enough of the "right" kind of opportunities to help kids get moving? What can you do to encourage more active play?
In short, aim for a wide variety of activities that get all kids moving at the same time. Sprinkle activities throughout the day in age-appropriate lengths of time.
There is some variation in recommendations for children five years and under. We often refer to the best practice of 120 minutes per day, recommended by the National Assocation for Sport and Physical Education, knowing that this is more than the "1 hour" recommended for ages 6 to adult.
We're in the habit of celebrating with food—usually sweets and candy with lots of empty calories. But it's easy to rethink how you party in the classroom or at day care when you're equipped with fun alternatives that kids love. We've got 15 fun and healthy school celebration ideas to help!
Why healthier classroom celebrations?
Why does your school or child care center need a healthy school celebrations policy that extends to birthdays, holidays, and special events? "A birthday is just once a year," we might think—but if you have 25 or more student birthdays, and add in Halloween, winter break, Valentine's Day, the 100th day of school, the last day of school...you can easily accumulate 7 full weeks of sugary treats!
Many local restaurants offer convenient and affordable delivery options for "catering" a lunch event at the office. If your workplace relies on this type of food service, the following tips can help everyone eat healthier.
Choose buffet style over boxed lunches
Boxed lunches typically include a sandwich, chips, dessert, and a piece of fruit. Limiting selection in this way often means that individuals eat larger portions than they'd choose for themselves. Plus, colleagues that don't like the featured fruit get no fruit at all.
Buffet style, on the other hand, usually offers enough variety for everyone to find something healthy they like to eat and enables colleagues to control their own portion sizes.
Makers of sports drinks and energy drinks brag about the beverages' benefits, but physicians and other scientists tell a different story.
Save your money, drink water
"Sports drinks" are flavored beverages that contain carbohydrates (usually sugar—like 18 teaspoons of it) and eletrolytes such as sodium and potassium. Ads claim to help athletes rehydrate and replace important nutrients lost through sweat better than water does. Popular brands include Gatorade and Powerade.
"Energy drinks" claim to increase energy, aid weight loss, and improve concentration. Popular brands include Monster, Red Bull, and Rockstar.
But the truth is that few of us actually need sports drinks, and energy drinks are outright dangerous for children and teens. To save money and promote good health, drink water instead.
Parents can't know what we don't tell them, so be sure to introduce your wellness vision at the beginning of the school year and take steps to reinforce it all year long. Here are four strategies to increase parent engagement and the tools you need to implement them:
Introduce your wellness plan
Create a welcome letter that introduces parents to the rationale for making wellness a priority in your school/classroom, shares your goals, and sets expectations for what they may see from you throughout the year.
You might include:
Lots of us express a desire to "be healthier," and to "raise healthy children," but what does that mean, exactly? Health and wellness tips may be widely available, but sometimes they feel contradictory and confusing. How do you know which sources to trust?
Our friends at Let's Go! created a simple slogan to help you remember four ways to be healthy every day: 5-2-1-0. These research-proven recommendations come from experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like adults, kids need to stay active throughout the day. Active kids feel less stressed, sleep better at night, gain more focus, are more ready to learn, and develop healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
One way to make sure that children in your care are getting enough movement throughout the day is to incorporate movement into learning. Below is a list of suggested resources. Check them out and get moving!