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Radio Disney to help Somerset kids 'Power Up'

Radio Disney employees work with students at Afton-Lakeland Elementary School's PowerUp School Challenge kickoff event. Afton-Lakeland was the first of many schools in the Stillwater, Minn. area to kick off the PowerUp School Challenge. Somerset Elementary School is the first school in Somerset to join the challenge.

Radio Disney employees will be playing tunes and dancing with Somerset Elementary School kids at an event to be held later in February.

"There's a lot of dancing, and there's a lot of really getting excited about fruits and vegetables," said Marna Canterbury, PowerUp director.

PowerUp, an initiative of Lakeview Health, is geared toward helping kids eat healthily and stay physically active.

Schools in Stillwater, Minn. and Somerset were invited to take part in the PowerUp School Challenge.

Through the four-week-long school challenge, teachers will guide their students to track how many fruits and vegetables they eat each week, as well as how much physical exercise they get.

Canterbury said the goal is for kids to "play actively" for at least one hour every day.

"Playing actively could be going to the playground, it could be dancing, it could be playing dodge ball, it could be going on a family walk," Canterbury said. "Anything that gets you moving and playing."

The teachers will be provided tips to help make the challenge more fun in the classroom, for example, making a collage using the colors of fruits and vegetables they have eaten. Or learning where specific fruits and vegetables grow.

"Each school customizes how they want to do that," Canterbury said. "But we provide them with lots of ideas they can use as a springboard."

Teachers will also receive small prizes to give to students as a reward for tracking their fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity.

Canterbury said each classroom will also receive a Radio Disney dance DVD made for the kids, which teachers can play in the classroom to get the kids moving around.

"Children are just designed to move," Canterbury said. "They need at least an hour of physically active play a day."

Canterbury said children who get enough physical activity during the school day do better in school. She said getting enough physical activity can help improve kids' ability to concentrate, as well as their test scores.

Each child will also go home with a pack of materials to track fruits, vegetables and physical activities over the weekend. This packet will also include tips for parents on helping kids eat healthily and exercise.

"We want to do everything we can through PowerUp to make sure that we help this generation of kids really make some changes with fruits and vegetables as well as with physical activity," Canterbury said.

She said this will help kids grow up to be healthy adults.

"Statistics show that if we don't take action, children today won't have good health... and they won't live lives as long," Canterbury said. "That is why Lakeview is so committed to this initiative, not just the school challenge, but the PowerUp initiative overall."

The PowerUp School Challenge kickoff at Somerset Elementary School is scheduled for late February.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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