Archive for Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nutrition counts in PE program

Students learn recipes for healthy snacks they can fix at home

January 31, 2007

Nobody was shy about this project.

Fourth-graders at Tonganoxie Elementary School made yogurt parfaits during physical education class -- and downed them quickly.

The treats were part of an "Eat Smart. Play Hard" program taught by physical education teacher Ursula Kissinger and Stephanie Hebert, the school nurse.

The program, provided through the Kansas State Department of Education's division of Child Nutrition and Wellness, stresses the importance of eating healthy foods and being active every day. For the past five years, Kissinger said, the school has received grants that pay for the supplies to go with the program.

Kissinger said she likes to present the eight-week program in the winter, when physical education classes generally are held indoors. The sessions involve fourth-grade students at Tonganoxie Elementary School and fifth-graders at Tonganoxie Middle School.

"I know that it takes some time away from physical activity, but I think it's very important that they get the nutritious information and that they learn to do physical activity outside the classrooms," Kissinger said.

At the beginning of the program, students set their goals. Then they keep logs of what nutritious foods they eat and track their physical activity. They earn "power points," which at the end of the session can lead to prizes.

A water bottle is given to each member of the group of children that earns the most points.

And, if individual children meet their goals five out of seven weeks, they earn a digital clock.

"So they get a little incentive," Kissinger said. "Of course they really enjoy the food. They think it's quite a treat."

While in years past the program has focused on serving unique fruits and vegetables to the children, this year it's turned to teaching the kids how to fix nutritious snacks.

"At first I though it would be a lot more work and take a lot more time," Kissinger said. "But these kids are of the age where they can go in the kitchen and make a snack and they have to make the decisions of what goes into their mouths."

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