Lakeview Health Powers Up the valleyGetting kids to eat well and stay active can be as difficult as it is important, according to Lakeview Health Systems experts. At a PowerUp kickoff event, Lakeview employees said leading by example is one of the best ways to help children form healthy habits.
By: Gretta Stark, New Richmond News
The PowerUp kickoff event at Somerset High School on Aug. 23 was a good start to the movement, said Rick Robbins, marketing director for Lakeview Health System, which put on the event. Robbins said he was pleased with the turnout, and while the PowerUp initiative is focused in the Stillwater, Minn. and Somerset School District, the movement is not exclusive to those two locations.
“Any community is open or available to either take Yum Power from HealthPartners or PowerUp from Lakeview Health,” Robbins said, “because we’re all in this to focus on the kids.”
“We’re really just talking about inviting people in to, what we call PowerUp, wherever you are,” said Marna Canterbury, community health and wellness director for the Lakeview Foundation, “dinner table, board room, back yard, schools, wherever you have influence and feel motivated to do something, we’re here to be your partner and help.”
PowerUp is an initiative started by Lakeview Health Systems, which owns Stillwater Medical Group, in an effort to help children create healthy habits early in life. Getting kids into the habit of eating healthily and being active is PowerUp’s goal.
Jill Lindell works for New Richmond Head Start and said it is gratifying to see a program like PowerUp promoting the same things Head Start has been promoting for years.
“I’ve been working with children and families for over 35 years now, so I can see that a lot of it is helping,” Lindell said.
Lindell said she thinks getting children in the habit of eating well and being active at a young age, as PowerUp aims to do, is important because of the level of brain development children under 5 have.
“If we don’t let those little brains absorb all this at that early age,” Lindell said, “then in a lot of ways, we’ve lost a lot of it.”
Lindell said getting children in the habit of eating healthy foods and being active at a young age sets them up for continued healthy behavior throughout their lives. This is backed up by Lakeview Foundation members, including Pediatrician Brian Cress.
“Every day I see kids who are worried about their weight, about their weight gain, what they’re eating,” Cress said.
He said instilling healthy habits in children helps keep kids from becoming obese and having weight-related health problems. One way parents can help is by modeling healthy behavior for their children, Cress added.
“The kids are looking up to us to make those choices,” Cress said. But of course, the first time a child tastes a healthy food, they may not enjoy it. Cress said getting kids to try things they’ve never tried is a challenge. He said in his home, he uses a one bite rule, he asks his kids to try at least one bit of any new food. Cress said he recommends the “one bite rule” to parents a lot.
“That was something that was really helpful for us,” said Cress.
Getting kids to try healthy foods was something Canterbury also stressed.
“It’s OK to serve kids food that they turn their nose up at first,” Canterbury said. “That’s our job. You don’t have to feel guilty about it, and you don’t have to short order cook.”
In order to help adults deal with that problem, Canterbury said PowerUp offers healthy recipes that are tasty too. Karl Benson, of Cooks of Crocus Hill, presented a cooking demonstration at the PowerUp kickoff event of one recipe. Benson made a healthy snack wrap made from whole wheat pita bread, and put into it chicken, greek yogurt, mayonnaise and vegetables. Benson recommended this snack over quicker, but less healthy items like chips.
“In this day and age, we as parents believe if it’s not packaged in individually-sized containers, then it doesn’t qualify as a snack,” Benson said.
Instead of grabbing individually-packaged snacks, Benson recommends parents make their children healthy snacks like the snack wrap.
“Be curious,” Benson said. “Grab that pita thing. Make it at home. Make double.”
Benson also encouraged adults to let children be involved in making their healthy snacks.
“It’s a beautiful thing if you have to arm-wrestle the spatula out of your kids’ mouths when they’re mixing their healthy snack,” Benson said.
To learn more about PowerUp visit www.lakeviewhealth.org/powerup.