Earlier this week, I got the chance to go to the 2013 Nutrition + Physical Activity Learning Connection Ohio Summit (for free). I was invited by the American Dairy Association Mideast to attend and live tweet the event. The event itself was presented by Ohio Action for Healthy Kids, in partnership with the American Dairy Association Mideast, Children’s Hunger Alliance and the American Academy of Pediatrics, with support from the Cardinal Health Foundation.
There were about 200 people there, from a wide variety of backgrounds. My preceptor from my internship rotation at Children’s Hunger Alliance was there, as well as my food service preceptor from one of the local school districts. There were educators, health professionals, RDs and many others from around the state of Ohio.
The opening speech was giving by the First Lady of Ohio, Karen Kasich. Prior to this event, I didn’t know much about her…but I was impressed with how active she is in the area of child nutrition and wellness. She worked with a team of people from Nationwide Children’s Hospital to develop a very cool series of videos called Time for 10! The basic idea is this:
“Time For 10! is a series of five, ten-minute exercise videos designed for daily use in K-5 classrooms. The program seeks to make guided exercise easy and accessible to Ohio schools, thereby improving students’ health and classroom productivity. It is a simple tool for schools to increase students’ physical activity through small increments of exercise, in a way that is manageable and constructive—providing benefits inside and outside the classroom.”
I LOVE the idea behind these videos and was thrilled to hear they’re being used in Ohio classrooms.
Throughout the morning, we heard from a variety of speakers on topics that included:
- Food Insecurity & Learning: Improving academic potential with school breakfast
- School Meals & Cognition: The Healthy Hunger-free Kids Act
- Physical Activity, Fitness & Learning: A review of research connecting physical education and physical activity to academic achievement
- The Crucial Role of Recess in Schools: The role it plays in helping children with creative expression and socio-emotional engagement
Here are some of the things I tweeted, along with Sally from Real Mom Nutrition who was also helping live-tweet the event:
The basis of the event:
A call to Action:
- Today’s children are overweight, undernourished and unfit.
- You can affect cognition with nutrition, activity and fitness.
- Experiences alter brain structure & function. health, physical activity & nutrition affect cognitive processing.
- We can’t change genetics or home stress but we can help boost kids’ brain function with good nutrition + physical activity.
On Food Insecurity & Learning and the Importance of Breakfast
- Hungry kids are more often sick, hospitalized and have impaired brain development.
- Schools are well positioned to be hubs to provide healthy food to kids by maximizing federal programs.
- 3 in 5 teachers across the country believe hunger inhibits the ability of their students to learn.
- Kids who eat school breakfast have better test scores, attend class more and are more likely to graduate from high school.
- “School breakfast can change lives” for kids with food insecurity at home.
- School breakfast = success. It reduces food insecurity and hunger and improves outcomes.
- Do schools in your area offer breakfast: Search http://www.nokidhungry.org/breakfast to find out or add your school!
On the importance of recess:
- Looking at brain scans of kids sitting vs after a 20 min walk- physical activity stimulates cognitive activity!!
- Schools should: Increase PE time and/or improve quality, provide regular recess, incorporate mvmt into the classroom!
- Children need free play to support cognitive growth.
- “Children develop intellectual constructs & cognitive understanding through interactive, manipulative experiences”
- “Optimal cognitive processing in children necessitates a period of interruption from cognitive processing” (ie recess!)
- “Play as a child sees it is the most serious thing in life.Play builds the child & is thus an essential part of education”
- “Recess is a life skills class”. “Recess is a right, not an option”. Let’s protect it!
- Research shows that recess before lunch cuts food waste, improves behav during meal time AND in the classroom.
- Often when taking away recess as punishment, we’re taking it away from kids who need it most.
We had “recess” before lunch. A 10 minute physical activity break lead by Dr. Greg Bellisari, a former Ohio State and NFL football player.
While we ate, we observed a kids taste testing panel. A few kids were given several healthier lunch options to try and then they gave us their opinion. Overall, they seem to enjoy everything they tried, including things like low sodium brown rice with black beans and unbreaded chicken nuggets!
During the afternoon we heard a session about overcoming non-academic barriers to school improvement plans. We also heard from a panel of people who discussed things like creating classrooms that move, smarter lunchrooms and creating a wellness culture.
A few afternoon tweets:
- Want change? Find ways to make your health improvement ideas fit into the school improvement plans that already exist.
- Ohio is 1 of only 2 states that doesn’t have health education standards. To help change that visit: http://www.setthestandards.wordpress.com
- Smarter Lunchroom Movement grants help manage portion sizes, improve visability of healthy foods and enhance taste.
- “Smarter Lunchroom Movement: Lunchrooms are hands-on learning labs for creating healthy habits!”
- When it comes to children, look 20-30 years down the road. Teach them skills that will serve them now AND then.
- Get everyone involved! Kids teaching kids is just as,if not more, powerful than adults teaching kids about healthy choices
Overall it was a great event. My favorite part was definitely the discussion about the benefits of recess. I’m such a huge proponent of recess and it was so interesting to hear about all the research that backs up the benefits of it.
Thanks again to American Dairy Association Mideast for inviting me to the event!
I attended this event for free and was compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.