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June 8, 2010 > Nutrition Olympics

Nutrition Olympics

By Suzanne Ortt
Photos By courtesy of New Haven School District

The end of the school year is always busy. Nutrition Olympics is part of the "busy-ness" at two New Haven Unified schools in Union City: Eastin Elementary on June 15 (8:40 a.m. - 2 p.m.) and Kitayama Elementary June 16 (8:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.). New Haven Unified School District has held Nutrition Olympics for the past eight years.

Needless to say, the Olympics promotes healthy eating and physical activity. HEART (Health Education and Resource Team) coordinates it. This team of energetic parents works with teachers in school activities aimed at healthy lifestyles. The California Dairy Council and Alameda County Public Health Agency are resources for HEART.

Elementary students learn through play at Nutrition Olympics, this action-oriented school happening. With teachers and parents participating, the children will engage in hands-on activities. Keeping nutrition in mind, the youngsters will make healthy snacks - yogurt parfaits.

Good old-fashioned games are set up throughout the schoolyard. Imagine these images. The melon-lifting booth is full of activity. Picture, in your mind, taping two melons, one on each end, onto PVC pipe. And voila, weights are created. Coconut bowling is an unusual game. Carrot hopping, holding a carrot between one's legs and hopping, is a challenge. Beanbag toss and potato sack races also engage the students. Beanbags, in the shapes of vegetables and fruits, are tossed at soda cans. The lesson is that vegetables and fruits are stronger than soda. Tough but fun potato sack races require much energy. Students find this end-of-school experience exciting.

Nationwide and across the county, numerous agencies encourage healthy lifestyles. Michelle Obama, wife of our President, is tackling children's health by focusing on childhood obesity. Alameda County has a Soda Free Summer campaign, beginning June 30, to promote an alternative drink - water. Locally, schools are addressing this issue. HEART is one catalyst for NHUSD's emphasis on nutrition and exercise. In addition, the Dairy Council hopes to work with selected schools to plant school gardens. Of course, students will help with this work, when it happens.

Adopt HEART's philosophy: be active, be fit, and eat right. Accept the challenge by neighborhoods, families, or individually. Summer is coming and it is the right time to try a change or two. Take it slow and, above all, have fun!

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