BAMC challenges kids to ‘B’ fitAround 80 St. Croix Central elementary school kids are tasting the rainbow this month through a challenge put on by the Baldwin Area Medical Center.
By: Gretta Stark, New Richmond News
Around 80 St. Croix Central elementary school kids are tasting the rainbow this month, but not by eating multicolored candies. The children are taking part in the B Challenge, put on by the Baldwin Area Medical Center.
The program meets once a week at both St. Croix Central and Baldwin-Woodville elementary schools. It runs for four weeks. At each meeting the children make a healthy snack, and learn about nutrition, do outdoor activities then go inside to do some Zumba. Natasha Ward, community wellness ambassador for Baldwin Area Medical Center, said the kids are learning the “nutrition rainbow”, learning the health benefits of eating different colored groups of fruits and vegetables each week.
Ward said the theme on Sept. 24 was blue.
“Blue and purple vegetables have flavonoids and phytochemicals that can specifically help with our immune systems,” Ward said. She said those components of blue and purple vegetables and fruits are being studied to find out if they could help fight certain cancers and to see what other health benefits they could provide. Ward said this is still being studied, but it is recommended to eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables each day and each week.
Ward said the “blue” healthy snack was “blue ants on a log,” which was blueberries and cream cheese on celery rather than the traditional raisins and peanut butter of “ants on a log”.
“At first they’ll be like ‘Oh, I don’t want to try it,’” Ward said. She said after the children do try the healthy snack, and learn about its nutritional value, she asks the kids if they would like more.
“Usually at least half of them raise their hands, including some kids who said they didn’t like it,” Ward said.
After a half hour of nutrition instruction comes half an hour of outdoor activities. Brenda Simone, SCC physical education instructor, manages the outdoor activities. She said outdoor exercise is an important part of children’s health.
“We have to work as a community to teach families the importance of good nutrition, exercise and getting outside again,” Simone said.
She said the outdoor activities usually compliment the nutritional lessons. On Sept. 24, students in kindergarten and first grade played a game of “junk food tag.” Students with “French fries” (yellow swimming pool noodles) tagged other students with their “French fries.” When tagged, students would sit down. Helpers would hand a “blueberry” (a blue ball) to their friends so they could rejoin the game.
“I’m trying to incorporate some of the nutrition lessons that they’re learning,” Simone said, of the games she plays with the children.
The kids also have pedometers they wear and record their steps. Their goal is to reach 5,000 steps per day and they receive prizes for turning in their step-counting logs.
“The focus…is just to get as many steps as they can,” Simone said.
Following outdoor activities, kids come back inside the school building to take part in a Zumbatomic class. Zumbatomic is a style of Zumba with music kids like, and kid-friendly routines, according to Zumba (and Zumbatomic) instructor Kelly Liddle.
Amanda Gustafson, of the Baldwin Area Medical Center marketing department, said the B challenge is part of a community-wide health initiative Baldwin Area Medical Center began in September, called the B Well Initiative. The initiative focuses on helping the entire community served by the Baldwin Area Medical Center become healthier. The B Challenge at St. Croix Central and Baldwin-Woodville elementary schools is one piece of that initiative. And Simone said she thinks the program is going well.
“It’s great to partner up with Baldwin Area Medical Center and the Healthier Together Foundation to bring this opportunity for kids.” Simone said.
Gustfson said the B Challenge is this fall’s four-week challenge for children. She said there will be another in February for winter, and another in April for spring.
For more information, visit www.healthybaldwin.org.