Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Policy Point Wednesday: Wellness Wednesdays - a Parent/School initiative

Several years ago, parents and teachers at our school decided that our kids needed more.  Our school adopted "Healthy mind, Healthy bodies, Healthy planet" as a motto, and parents and teachers scraped together extra minutes to educate kids on how to take better care of themselves and of the planet.  After several years, I'm proud to say our school is an example of how parents and educators working together can make a difference.

For instance, last year we organized volunteers to offer many different events, including a school-wide recycling education program taught by a parent with the help of kids in the lunchrooms, a "No Child Left Inside" nature walk, funds for a visit/tasting from the Good Food Project, Urban farmers, garden-to-table events, Walk-N-Roll events, and many, many more.  Countless man-hours, woman-hours, parent-hours, teacher-hours, administrator-hours and kid-hours were clocked in this effort - and we found that kids were, indeed making healthier choices: our cafeteria kept running out of fresh fruit.  Kids walked or rolled to school.  Things were good.

This year, we've decided to take a less administration-heavy approach using the excellent curriculum developed by the Iowa State University Extension (supported by SNAP-ED) called Pick A Better Snack & Act. Each month volunteers will create a display of the vegetable, fruit, and action of the day - so tomorrow's Wellness Wednesday is brought to you by the NOUNS zucchini and plum and the VERB roll (as in bike, skate, skateboard, etc.)  Kids can play Pick A Better Snack & Act Bingo in their classrooms; the bingo cards have information about the day's nouns and verbs to share with their parents.  Our PTA Wellness budget will be used for printing the cards, and the lobby display of that month's fruits and vegetables double as the prizes for the bingo game.

What really appeals to me about this program is its simplicity:  for instance, plums come with the direction "Wash.  Eat.  How easy is that?"  The back side of the bingo cards offer the barest basic cooking instructions, along with tips on how to choose good produce, and also different ways to keep a family active and moving.  The program is seasonally appropriate for most of the US - and offers information on services such as the SNAP program (we're making some minor additions so that the cards reflect the programs available locally.)  Cost to the PTA: less than $30/month.

There are many such programs that are free and easily accessible online:,  JAM (Just A Minute) School Program, and Eat Smart. Play Hard, are just a few.  Powered by volunteers and information, we can make a difference to the next generation of Americans.


KD said...

The program is actually administered through the Iowa State University Extension office.

Overall it is a good program, but there is some information that is a little misleading or was about the price of various foods.

Last year it was paired with an overly invasive survey for parents to fill out at the start of the program and the end of the program.

Michele Hays said...

Thank you for the correction - I updated the post with the right information.

I am guessing their pricing information comes from the USDA's ERS report which aggregates data from across the US - and which therefore may not apply in a specific area. Which

Post a Comment