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collapse Published Month : <hide>2016-05</hide>May 2016 ‎(2)
5/23/2016 9:17 AM

summer log small.jpg​It used to be that the start of spring marked the end of the Healthy Futures Challenge for the year.

Not anymore.

For years, Healthy Futures has offered two, free physical activity challenges during the school year — one in the fall and one in the spring. In June, the Healthy Futures program is starting its first Summer Challenge with a few programs across the state ready to support Alaska kids being active throughout the summer.

“Our program is about building habits, and the summer has always been a large gap between our spring challenge and our fall challenge,” said Harlow Robinson, executive director of Healthy Futures and the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. The summer challenge provides support for daily physical activity when many children need it, he said.

Healthy Futures is partnering with Camp Fire Alaska, the Alaska Afterschool Network, and RurAL CAP to run the summer physical activity challenge in four rural communities that participate in Camp Fire’s Rural Camp program and through Camp Fire’s school-based summer camp program in Anchorage.

“Camp Fire Alaska strives to teach and encourage youth to make healthy life choices. Partnering with Healthy Futures seemed like a natural fit,” said Joanne Phillips-Nutter, director of development and marketing for Camp Fire Alaska. “The partnership provides Camp Fire with a tried-and-tested system to further encourage, incentivize, and promote the practice of lifelong fitness. We are excited to partner with Healthy Futures, and provide the opportunity to extend their programming to reach youth year-round!”

The school-year Healthy Futures Challenge and the Summer Challenge run in slightly different ways. To successfully complete the school-year challenge, children in grades K-6 fill out a physical activity log for an entire month. To complete the Summer Challenge, children need to fill out an activity log for a two-week period of time. During those two weeks, participating children need to be active for 60 minutes a day for at least 10 days, Robinson said.

This two-week Summer Challenge period matches the two-week length of the summer camps that Camp Fire runs in rural communities across the state. This summer, the Healthy Futures Challenge will be offered in Kaltag, Nulato, Ruby and Koyokuk.

There will be four, two-week Summer Challenge periods in June and July, Robinson said. Children who complete the Summer Challenge will receive a prize. If children complete three of the four Summer Challenge periods, they will be eligible for a $300 grand prize gift card to buy physical activity equipment.

Robinson calls this Summer Challenge a pilot, and Healthy Futures will be seeing how it works in rural and urban communities. Some of these communities have participated in the school-based challenge that is run every fall and spring in almost 200 schools. Others haven’t participated before.

“It’s an opportunity to get in the door in those communities,” Robinson said. “Hopefully they will continue on (with the challenge) in the fall.”

To learn more about the Summer Healthy Futures Challenge, contact Healthy Futures at

5/16/2016 10:11 AM

A circus is coming to Barrow next week, and the community’s children will be the performers.Every summer in Barrow – the northernmost community in Alaska – circus artists fly in to provide a two-week camp for almost 100 Barrow children. Kids from 5 and up can attend every day at no cost to them.Barrow Circus photo.jpg

The camp has been running for the past eight summers in Barrow and for five years in the surrounding villages, said Sandy Solenberger, who has helped organize the yearly North Slope circus camps. Children can attend circus camp for free because it is fully funded by a federal diabetes grant and Ilisagvik College, and it receives in-kind support from the City of Barrow and the North Slope Borough School District, Solenberger said.

This year’s Barrow camp will run May 23 through June 3. During that time, the campers will get to learn unique physical activities – including walking on stilts and a tightwire, balancing on a board atop a rolling cylinder, hanging on a trapeze, and tumbling. These circus skills help Barrow children get closer to 60 minutes of physical activity each day – the national recommendation for good health.

“What we are trying to do is help kids develop the habit of physical activity,” Solenberger said. “We are looking for unusual activities that make joyful memories.”

Some of these activities seem novel, but they have a history in Alaska Native culture, Solenberger said. For some regions of Alaska, juggling is an Alaska Native skill that was done with rocks instead of balls. The Barrow circus camp staff are hoping to leave behind more juggling balls in North Slope villages to promote this physical activity after the camp concludes, Solenberger said.

The camp promotes health beyond increased activity. Solenberger said the only drink available to the kids during camp is water. At the beginning of camp, kids decorate their own water bottles so they can drink water throughout the day. Camp coordinators also talk to kids about the health concerns linked with sugary drinks.

If you’re in Barrow on June 3, be sure to stop by for the grand finale of Circus Camp. The children will put on an evening circus show for the whole community. Families will be entertained, and the children get to show off their new physical activity skills.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2016-04</hide>April 2016 ‎(3)
4/26/2016 12:31 PM

Pink Potato Salad 2.JPGWant to make a healthy salad that passes the kid test?
Alaska kids tried 20 new salad recipes during the past year, and their top choices for salads, dressings, and seasonings were printed in the new Alaska School Salad Book, which is available online for free.
Alaska kids from the Alaska Gateway School District in Tok and the Boys and Girls Home of Alaska in Fairbanks taste-tested pizza salad, crispy ranch chickpeas, Mediterranean couscous, and more and then graded them with words, and scores.
"It is epic and good," said one child about one of the salads. “Awesome,” said another.
When asked to rate a salad on a scale of 1-6, with 6 being the best, one student’s score went through the roof: 999,999.Pizza Salad
It’s hard to question the deliciousness of a salad when one child says, “It’s the best thing in the world.”
The Alaska School Salad Book was published in partnership by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS); the Department of Education and Early Development; the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Agriculture; the University of Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service; the Alaska Gateway School District; and the Boys and Girls Home of Alaska The recipes come in bulk sizes so that schools can make them for the growing number of salad bars available in Alaska schools. But don’t worry if you’re not up for making a salad that feeds 100 people. The health department has also printed all of the salad recipes in quantities that feed a much smaller family of four. All of the recipes are saved as PDF files and can be printed and cut-out for your personal recipe files.

The salad recipes provide fun news ways to help make fruits and vegetables a part of children’s daily diets because they are essential for optimal child growth, weight management and chronic disease prevention, said Diane Peck, a registered dietitian with DHSS. Unfortunately, Alaska children are not eating enough fruits and veggies. Only 20% of Alaska high school students eat the minimum recommended amount of five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, according to Alaska’s recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The salad book, and the smaller-size family recipe cards, show off unique ways to mix fruits and vegetables in salads. Toss together wheat berries, green peppers, black olives, some spices and a little mozzarella cheese and diced pepperoni and you have pizza salad. It’s got all the flavors of pizza, but is served in a bowl and not on a crust. Fruits and vegetables are front and center in the Carrot and Mandarin Orange Salad. Want a surprise of color? Prepare pink potato salad with red potatoes – skin still on – and whole beets.
 “It was exciting to see the kids trying new foods, especially foods that come from Alaska,” Peck said. “The students made great suggestions to improve some of the original recipes. They were so eager to try new foods when they were involved in the process.” 

4/18/2016 9:08 AM

​When the snow melts and warmer weather arrives, many of Alaska’s kids are anxious to get outside on their bikes. And many of ASDBikeSafetyTrailer.jpgAlaska’s physical education teachers are anxious to give those kids a refresher course in bike safety.

But some kids can’t get their bikes to school easily, some don’t own a helmet, and the bikes they bring often have mechanical issues that delay learning and safety skills practice while teachers help students get their bikes in working order.

Now, a cooperative effort between the Alaska Injury Prevention Center, the Anchorage School District, and the state Department of Transportation’s Alaska’s Safe Routes to School Program is providing an all-inclusive bike safety class-in-a-trailer that includes well-maintained bikes, helmets, and a curriculum.

Health and physical education teachers can reserve the trailer through an online request system and have it delivered directly to their school. White Spruce Trailers in Anchorage outfitted the 20-foot trailer with the hooks and storage for the bike fleet and helmets, and a supply cabinet filled with cones and signs for setting up a bike skills course along with the tools needed for simple maintenance and upkeep of the bikes.

The bikes are Bike Friday’s OSATA bikes and are capable of adjusting to fit riders from 4’0” to 6’2” and up to 200 pounds. They are made in Eugene, Ore. of Made in America steel — a rarity for children’s bikes.

The curriculum includes classroom and on-the-bike instruction taught using the Bikeology curriculum, designed by ShapeAmerica (Society of Health and Physical Educators) with funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bikeology is tailored for students in grades 6-12 and meets national standards for K-12 physical education.

 “We are excited to work with our community partners to enhance our current programs by finding innovative ways to engage our students,” said Melanie Sutton, the Health and Physical Education Coordinator for the Anchorage School District.  “This program allows us to increase our ability to provide an equal playing field for students to learn about the benefits gained from being physically active as well as the skills and knowledge to incorporate safe, satisfying physical activity into their lives.” 

4/11/2016 10:44 AM
​Looking for a brain break?
That’s the term a number of Alaska teachers are using when they add in a short burst of physical activity in the middle of classroom learning. Physical activity has benefits that go beyond helping children and teens maintain a healthy weight. Recent national studies show that physical activity can help our children think and learn better
Since children and teens spend more than half of their waking hours in the classroom, school is a prime location to increase physical activity among children. Some Alaska teachers are seeing the direct benefits of short activity breaks in their classrooms, and they say it is a great way to help youth reach the goal of 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
“They say that with any muscle you need to work it, but also give it some rest, so we take little brain breaks throughout the day,” said Marisa Glieco, a teacher at Lake Otis Elementary School in Anchorage. “When the kids have been sitting for 20 minutes or so, listening, taking notes, or doing an activity, a brain break gives them a little chance to move their bodies and give their minds a rest. I am always looking for ways we can get them up and active, and re-engage their brains.”
Sarah Tunley, a health specialist with the Anchorage School District, said she uses the same approach in the health and life skills classes she teaches to students in kindergarten through 6th grade.
“In elementary school, a lot of the time we are still kind of focused on all of our content, and kids are sitting and being sedentary a lot throughout the day,” Tunley said. “I want to make sure the kids are getting physical activity throughout the day, and not just at recess or PE time.”
There are numerous sources online for active classroom break ideas, but Glieco and Tunley both said their go-to brain break activity source is
“Most of the teachers at my school use Go Noodle,” Glieco said. “The site has a wide variety of activities, so there is something for everyone from dancing, to Zumba, to weird YouTube videos the kids like to jump around to.”
Glieco said her principal encourages teachers to have their classes take short extra recess breaks when possible to help kids focus better. When the schedule doesn’t allow a full outdoor break, a 10- or 15-minute activity break in the classroom can be just as helpful.
“When we don’t (take an activity break), you can tell the difference (in their behavior),” Glieco said. “They enjoy that ability to not only connect with each other, but to be active.”
Glieco and Tunley also like the wide variety of activity levels they can choose from when using online resources.
“If you are having a really rambunctious class, there are calming activities and yoga that can help them focus on an activity and help them be mindful,” said Glieco.
Most online classroom activity resources require little or no teacher preparation, special equipment, or resources. Glieco said she particularly likes to show videos that the kids can follow along with for brain breaks because it gives her a chance to rest her brain and get active as well.
Looking for short classroom activity break ideas? Check out these sites:
Go Noodle
Take 10
Active Classroom Resources
Fuel up to Play 60
Activity Bursts in the Classroom
Kids in Motion 

collapse Published Month : <hide>2016-03</hide>March 2016 ‎(4)
3/29/2016 9:47 AM

Today, Play Every Day is looking at oVitamin400x300.jpgne of the most confusing drinks sold in the sugary drink aisle of the grocery stores. It’s called a vitamin-enhanced water drink. The confusion around this drink comes with how it’s marketed.

When you look at the front of a vitamin-enhanced water drink, it appears to be a healthy choice. The front label stresses that it’s packed with vitamins. If you turn the bottle around, however, the nutrition facts label tells the truth. A vitamin-enhanced water drink is actually loaded with sugar — about 8 teaspoons of added sugar in a 20-ounce bottle.
This January, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued the first-ever recommended limit for the amount of added sugar we eat and drink every day. The limit states that everyone  — old and young — should limit their added sugar to 10 percent or less of total daily calories.  A typical adult consuming 2,000 calories a day should limit their sugar intake to 12 ½ teaspoons of added sugar or fewer each day. A moderately active 8-year-old boy should have no more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar each day. Just one vitamin-enhanced water drink gets a child or an adult close to the daily sugar limit, and that doesn’t count all of the other added sugar eaten each day in cereals, snack bars, desserts, even condiments like ketchup and salad dressing.

Play Every Day has been looking at several different types of sweetened drinks to find out how much sugar they contain. Earlier this month, we focused on the powdered mix.  While it’s often billed as a breakfast drink with added vitamins, a 16-ounce glass of a powdered mix can start your day with more added sugar than a can of soda.
For the best health, skip sugary drinks like vitamin-enhanced beverages and powdered mixes. Instead, serve your families water or low-fat milk.  If you want vitamins, stick with whole foods and all-natural sources, like fruits and vegetables.
3/22/2016 12:08 PM

Press conference at elementary schoolA national public health foundation has recognized Anchorage as one of four communities nationwide that reduced its childhood obesity rates. Obesity rates among Anchorage School District elementary and middle school students declined by 2.2% between the 2003–04 and 2010–11 school years, due to coordinated efforts among the school district, the Municipality of Anchorage, and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS).

On March 22, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released the results of the Childhood Obesity Declines project from the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research. The project studied four U.S. communities — Anchorage, Alaska; New York City; Granville County, N.C.; and Philadelphia, Pa. — to better understand the strategies these communities used to reduce the significant health issue of childhood obesity.
The report discusses a number of strategies and collaborations that likely contributed to the childhood obesity decline seen in Anchorage between the 2003-04 and 2012-11 school years. Strategies completed through partnership by the Municipality of Anchorage, the Anchorage School District and DHSS had a positive effect on obesity rates.
At the Anchorage School District, the wellness team made the following changes: 
  • increased weekly physical education and health instruction time for elementary students;
  • no longer sold sodas during school hours;
  • improved school lunches to meet stricter health standards;
  • expanded the national school lunch program to high schools;
  • increased the number of students participating in the Healthy Futures Challenge — the free, school-based physical activity challenge run by Healthy Futures, an Alaska nonprofit organization; and
  • adopted a comprehensive School District Wellness Policy that improved the foods available in vending machines, school stores and classrooms.
At the same time, the Municipality of Anchorage’s Task Force on Obesity and Health increased public awareness of the health consequences of childhood obesity; improved childcare licensing requirements around physical activity and nutrition; encouraged a variety of agencies to engage in improving the health of Anchorage residents; and guided development and adoption of the Anchorage Pedestrian and Bike Plans.
 “Childhood obesity is a serious health concern in Alaska, and about 1 out of 3 children in this state is overweight or obese,” said Karol Fink, the DHSS Obesity Prevention and Control Program manager. “This report shows that a broad set of policies applied by a large group of partners over a period of time can affect health behaviors and reduce childhood obesity rates.”
While community partners are pleased obesity rates among Anchorage students have not increased since 2011, the collective efforts must continue to further decrease obesity rates. Many children remain at increased risk for weight-related health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
At a public event at an Anchorage elementary school, Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, Anchorage School District Superintendent Ed Graff, and Dr. Jay Butler, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the state of Alaska, committed to continue working collaboratively to address childhood obesity in Anchorage.
3/14/2016 8:45 AM
Superhero Showdown logo.png

Spring is on its way, and that means it’s almost time for running race season!
There are two runs coming up in April that are great opportunities for families Spring is on its way, and that means it’s almost time for running race season! There are two runs coming up in April that are great opportunities for families to get active together while raising money for good causes.
The Skinny Raven Superhero Showdown on Saturday, April 9, is a chance to suit up in a superhero costume — anything from Watchmen to the Incredibles to the Avengers — and join dozens of other families on a Heroes vs. Villains 5K or Little Heroes 1.3K course (for kids under 10) along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
You can run with a team, decide if you are heroes or villains, and compete for fastest team, biggest team and best-costumed team.  Local food trucks, face painting, and a bouncy castle offer more fun at the finish line. Participants receive a T-shirt and a medal.
Register online before April 8 and pay $40 for the 5K and $25 for the 1.3K. Prices are $5 more for race-day registration.
Families also can request financial assistance for youth entry fees by emailing Healthy Futures. Skinny Raven will match all donations up to $1,000 for the Healthy Futures program.
Come out again two weeks later for the Alaska Heart Run on Saturday, April 23. Choose from a timed 5K, untimed 5K run and walk, or a 3K walk — all on the UAA campus.

Register online before April 3 for the best prices: Adults pay $25 for the timed 5K and $20 for the untimed 5K, children ages 4-18 pay $10 and $5, and little ones under 4 are free.

According to the race website, all money raised at the Heart Run will benefit the American Heart Association to fund research and community programs that help to fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Participants who register for the Alaska Heart Run on or before April 22 will be entered to win a free Alaska Airlines ticket. Children in 6th grade and below will receive a Heart Run medal and there will be awards for the top 5 male, female, and Mended Hearts runners (heart attack or stroke survivors), top fundraising teams and top participating schools.

Find more information about both races here:
Superhero Showdown
Alaska Heart Run


3/7/2016 9:30 AM

When you talk about sugary drinks, the most common one that comes to mind is soda.

But it’s not just soda anymore.
Today, sugary drinks can mean many different types of beverages that come loaded with added sugar and other sweeteners. Play Every Day is going to explore how much sugar is hiding in these dTang-wText500x358.jpgrinks.
Sugary drinks are the source of almost half of all added sugars consumed by Americans. Several years ago, we talked with Alaska parents of children ages 5 to 12 — in Bethel, Barrow, Nome, Fairbanks and Anchorage. We asked these parents what kinds of sugary drinks they had on their cupboard shelves at home.
The most common drink at home for these families wasn’t soda. It was powdered drink mix.
The powdered drink mix is available in all kinds of flavors, including the popular orange flavor. It can be found stacked up in displays at Alaska rural grocery stores. These drinks are stable on the shelves for months at a time and can be stirred in by the scoopful — turning a healthy beverage (water) into a drink that contains almost as much sugar per ounce as soda.
A 16-ounce glass of a powdered drink can have 11 teaspoons of added sugar. If you serve that to your children at breakfast, they will hit the recommended cap for a whole day’s worth of added sugar before even arriving at school.  This January, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued the first-ever recommended limit for the amount of added sugar we eat and drink every day. The recommendation states that everyone — old and young —  should limit their added sugar to 10 percent or less of total daily calories. A moderately active 8-year-old boy, for example, should have no more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar each day. That’s less than what’s found in that one glass of a powdered drink mix.
For the best health, skip sugary drinks like powdered mixes and serve your families water or low-fat milk. Learn more about sugary drinks on our website.




collapse Published Month : <hide>2016-02</hide>February 2016 ‎(4)
2/22/2016 11:06 AM
Let's Move Active Schools logo for blog.jpgWe want kids to be more physically active — to get out and play every day for 60 minutes. Regular physical activity does more than help kids stay healthy and strong. The national Let’s Move! Active Schools program stresses that activity is also linked to higher test scores, improved school attendance, increased focus and better behavior in class, and other healthy habits.
Schools are a great place to help increase the amount of physical activity Alaska children get each week.
“Since they spend so much time in school, it’s a great place to work on their activity levels,” said Nancy Blake, a physical education teacher at Goose Bay Elementary School in Wasilla and the Alaska state coordinator for the Let’s Move Active Schools program.  “The program provides a clearinghouse of information for people committed to improving physical activity for kids.”
Let’s Move! Active Schools is a free, national program that is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Lets Move! Program, which is supported by health, education and private sector organizations. The program assists schools in ensuring that 60 minutes of physical activity a day is the new norm in K-12 schools across the country.
As Blake explains it, anyone can register their school, from a teacher to a parent to a principal. Then they will be asked to take a short survey.
“The survey is to see what your school’s strengths are and where your needs are,” said Blake. “It’s also a way nationally for us to get an idea of what is happening out there in the schools. It gives us a way to answer the question:  How can we provide more activities before school, after school, and throughout the school day, for kids?”
In addition to accessing an online resource clearinghouse, registered Active Schools can learn about grants, discounts, and special offers from public and private sector sources to buy equipment or supplies to address the school’s needs or to attend training and professional development opportunities. Active Schools can also access experienced physical activity and physical education advisors. National experts provide customized support and virtual and in-person trainings.
“There are a ton of partnerships out there so you can access grant money to provide more programs in your school,” said Blake.
Furthermore, schools can get special awards and incentives for their efforts to provide a healthy and active environment. Seward Middle School was awarded a bronze Active Schools prize in 2014.
Yolanda Ifflander, the staff nurse at Seward Middle School, said the program looked at the school’s class instruction regarding physical activity and good nutrition, as well as the school’s wellness policy. The school provides 50 minutes of PE every day for every student, but that was just a starting point.
 “They examined our school menu to see if it meets federal requirements for low fat, low salt and servings of fruits and vegetables. It’s very detailed, and you have to provide proof that you are meeting their standards,” she said.
As part of the award, Ifflander received funding to attend a national Active Schools conference, where she shared ideas with Active Schools coordinators from around the nation and learned about new private sector grant and award sources to help schools continue their positive work. Ifflander later applied for a healthy eating prize from a blender manufacturer, and was one of only five schools nationwide to win. The school received $10,000 to buy fresh produce, along with several blenders and recipes. Ifflander spent three months teaching a group of about 40 youth how to make healthy smoothies every school day, using fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, almond milk and coconut water.
“It was my goal to expose kids to healthy fruits and vegetables they might not otherwise get exposed to, either due to family finances that limit what their parents can buy, or because of where we are located,” she said.
Ifflander said the kids in the program loved the smoothies, and she has carried on the effort to make smoothies for all the kids at the school as funds allow.
To learn more, email, call 1-855-972-0876, or go to
There are more than 17,000 schools nationwide enrolled in the Let’s Move! Active Schools program.  Find Alaska’s Active Schools on the Let’s Move website.
2/18/2016 11:43 AM

It might be cold outside in February, but that doesn’t stop many Alaskans from getting active. If your family needs a little nudge to get bundled up and play outside, Public Schools Celebration Week might be just the ticket.

Great Alaska Schools is partnering with United Way and other Alaska agencies this week to celebrate the “Public Good in Public Education.”  Part of the plan includes designating Friday, Feb. 19, as “Play Outside Together Day.” The organizers are hoping to encourage young people and their friends and families to take advantage of the day off of school in Anchorage and other school districts to get outside and play.
“We are encouraging and supporting kids getting out and skating, skiing, walking, or doing anything fun outdoors,” said Andrea Cordano, one of the organizers of the week-long event from Great Alaska Schools Anchorage. “We are always happy when we can support what is healthy for kids!”
If inside play is more appealing, Thursday, Feb. 18, is designated as “Play and Learn Day.” In Anchorage, local child development agencies, public school after-school programs, and municipal library locations will be organizing indoor activities for all ages throughout the day and evening, including story time, music, yoga and more.
The week will end with a “Public School Spirit Day” between noon and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, with a free, fun, outdoor event at Westchester Lagoon in Anchorage.
“There will be skating on the lagoon and Nordic skiing around the lagoon, and several dance groups, storytelling groups and music groups from our local schools will be performing, ” said Cordano.  She encouraged everyone to wear their school colors to celebrate their school pride.  A shuttle bus from West High School’s parking lot will help reduce parking headaches for the event.
Details of all planned events for the week are available at
2/9/2016 11:42 AM

Some advertising will tell you that your kids need to replenish their bodies with sports drinks when they get out and play.

They don’t. Drink Water Poster ANTHC.jpg

Leading health organizations that promote children’s
health state that kids only need water to rehydrate when they are playing most sports or being physically active. The
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says “Sports and energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and adolescents, but in most cases kids don’t need them – and some of these products contain substances that could be harmful to children.”
 “For most children engaging in routine physical activity, plain water is best,” Dr. Holly Benjamin, who was a member of the AAP’s Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, stated in a 2011 report about sports and energy drinks. “Sports drinks contain extra calories that children don’t need, and could contribute to obesity and tooth decay.“
Play Every Day is sharing that message in a new TV public service announcement that began airing statewide this month. The PSA features Alaska children playing basketball. Preston Pollard, a professional skateboarder who grew up in Alaska, voices the main message:  Just because you play sports doesn’t mean you need sports drinks. Water and a healthy snack is all you need to bounce back when you get out and play.
Sports drinks have only a small amount of electrolytes — minerals that you lose when you sweat — but they come packed with a large amount of added sugar. A typical 20-ounce sports drink that’s sold on grocery store shelves or in vending machines has about 9 teaspoons of added sugar.
Is 9 teaspoons too much? For the first time, the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans delivered a recommended limit to the amount of added sugar we eat and drink every day. The limit is 10 percent or fewer of total daily calories. That means a moderately active 8-year-old boy should have no more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar each day. If he drinks a sports drink on the soccer field, he’s almost reached his added sugar limit in one drink alone — and that doesn’t count all the added sugars in his cereal at breakfast, granola bar at snack, jelly on his sandwich, even spaghetti sauce with dinner.
“When parents choose drinks for their kids, the best choice they can make is water or low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks,” said Karol Fink, a registered dietitian and manager of Alaska’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program.
To learn more about the large amount of sugar hiding in sports drinks and other sugary drinks, visit Play Every Day. Email if you’d like posters and short lesson plans related to sugary drinks for your school, clinic or business.
2/2/2016 9:47 AM

Do your kids go to Craig Elementary or Island Christian Academy – both in the small Southeast city of Craig?

What about North Star Elementary school in Kodiak?
Or Fred Ipalook Elementary up north in Barrow?
Possible photo for HFC blog resized.jpgThese schools are among 20 new elementary schools in all corners of Alaska that have signed up for the spring Healthy Futures Challenge that starts this week. Other new schools that signed up for the free physical activity challenge are in Juneau (Auke Bay, Gastineau, Glacier Valley and Juneau Community Charter) and more remote communities like Thorne Bay, Port Alexander, Hollis and Naukati.
That brings the grand total to 195 elementary schools in 36 school districts that have signed up for the spring Challenge – more schools than have ever signed up for a previous Challenge period. (Healthy Futures and Play Every Day have a goal to sign up 200 elementary schools, so it’s not too late to sign up! Principals or teachers can sign up their schools by visiting the Healthy Futures website.)
Here’s how the challenge works:
In schools that signed up, participating kindergarten through sixth-grade students will hike, bike, jump, run, skate or ski their way to 60 minutes of activity a day. They can count their activity at recess, during gym class, and add in time before and after school and on weekends. If they hit the 60-minute mark at least 15 days of the month and log their activity on a simple form, they will win prizes for each month of the Challenge. The spring challenge runs February, March and April.
There are plenty of low-cost and no-cost physical activities around Alaska to help kids hit their 60-minute goal for the Challenge. Below are a few upcoming events in Anchorage and Palmer.
·        The Stud Run – Sand Lake Elementary in Anchorage is hosting its first Stud Run at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6. They’re calling it the “only lake-based winter wellness fun run” that follows a 1.75 mile lap around the frozen Sand Lake. The untimed run/walk, which is a fundraiser for the school, starts and ends near the dock behind Sand Lake Elementary.
·        Nunataq Snowshoe Challenge – Come to the Government Peak Recreation Area in Palmer at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, for the snowshoe challenge. The event includes a free 1K race for kids ages 3-10, with no snowshoes required. “Just line up and have fun!” the website says. Participants also can pay to enter a 5K, 10K and a 50-yard dash.
·        Ski 4 Kids – Sign up your children for the annual Ski 4 Kids Day on Saturday, March 5. Kids up to age 14 can participate in cross country ski races, obstacle courses and mock biathlons at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. There’s no participant fee for the event, but a recommended $20 donation. Proceeds go to the Anchorage Parks and Recreation’s Ski Outreach Program and a grant program that provides ski equipment to schools and youth groups.
There are many more physical activity events for families in the coming months. Visit the Healthy Futures calendar to find out what’s happening in your community.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2016-01</hide>January 2016 ‎(4)
1/27/2016 9:05 AM

Tongass School of Arts and Sciences in Ketchikan became the only school in Alaska to receive a national HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) award for 2015.

Emily Henry, the wellness coordinator for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District, said the staff’s commitment to its school translated into a bronze award for creating a healthier school with a smarter lunchroom, and for adding emphasis on physical education and activity.
Tongass School Menu Item Resized.jpg
“The staff is really involved in the success of their students, not only for health, but for academics, too,” Henry said.
Tongass, as part of the Ketchikan school district, is one of a number of schools that have partnered with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Obesity Prevention and Control Program to improve nutrition and physical activity for its young students.
“Healthy students learn better, and we are so excited to see schools like Tongass recognized for their efforts to prevent childhood obesity,” said Lauren Kelsey, who works with the state’s program to help schools improve nutrition and activity.
Tongass, a charter school for about 170 pre-kindergarten through sixth grade children, has added a number of programs during recent years to improve the health of its students.
HealthierUS schools must meet criteria demonstrating commitment to a healthy school environment, including implementing a local school wellness policy, as mandated by Congress.  Tongass follows the Ketchikan school district’s wellness policy, recently updated based on the recommendations of the state’s Gold Standard School Wellness Policy.
HUSSC schools focus on improving the quality of foods served and providing students with nutrition education. The Tongass lunch room now has two salad bars – one for the younger kids and one for the older ones –built according to the shorter heights of the children.
“They are kid-sized, so everything is at their level,” Henry said.
The district’s schools hold a lunch menu contest that allows students to design a menu item. If the food service staff agrees that the item includes healthy portions of dairy, protein, vegetable and other nutritional components, the item gets added to the district’s lunch menu. If the new meal turns out to be both tasty and popular, it continues to be added to the menu. One of those favorite meals came from a Tongass student and includes a vegetable beef stir fry with broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and carrots, alongside a fruit salad of blueberries, strawberries, bananas, peaches, cherries and pineapple. That’s four vegetables and six different fruits in just one lunch.
Tongass also addressed some physical activity challenges in unique ways. The charter school shares a building – and a gym – with another school. Its physical education teacher also must spend time as a school counselor. Given that, space and staff-time allows each Tongass student to get 60 minutes a week of physical education time. Tongass staff came up with a number of ways to add to that time, getting students closer to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity for the best health. The school is next door to the city’s recreation center, which has a pool. Once a week, all students go to the center for 40 minutes of swimming, Henry said. Even more, the teachers for each grade level are expected to add at least 15 minutes of movement every day to the regular classroom, Henry said. The school also offers extra-curricular clubs for karate and running and weekly enrichment courses to provide additional physical activity time, she said.
Tongass also participates in the Healthy Futures Challenge, a free, school-based physical activity challenge run by the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Tongass is one of almost 200 Alaska elementary schools that offer the challenge during the school year. Children log their physical activity each month on simple forms, turn them in at school, and win prizes for being active. Participating schools also can receive grants to support their physical activity programs.
If your school interested in working toward a HealthierUS School Challenge award, go online and learn how to improve nutrition and physical activity in schools.
1/19/2016 11:52 AM

We’re all about promoting play, so we wanted to learn more about the first-ever PLAAY Summit to be held in Anchorage on Feb. 19 and 20.
Our partner in physical activity — the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame that runs the statewide Healthy Futures Challenge for kids — is presenting the Positive Leadership for Active Alaskan Youth or PLAAY Summit that focuses on using physical activity to improve the health and well-being of Alaska youth. The Summit is geared toward teachers, parents, nurses and health care providers, coaches, and any adults who educate, coach or mentor Alaska youth in sports and other activities. The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame is organizing the conference with Alaska physical therapist Wallace “Wally” Wilson, who previously ran the Coaches Clinic that was focused on sports medicine issues for youth.
2016 PLAAY Flyer RESIZED.jpg
"The objective of the PLAAY Summit is to ensure those in leadership positions in our state have the right tools to promote and mentor all that is beneficial about sports and physical activity," said Harlow Robinson, Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Executive Director.
The Summit will be held from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19, and 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20. Participants will meet in Conference Rooms 1 and 2 of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Consortium Office Building, located at 4000 Ambassador Drive in Anchorage. The registration fee is $150, and University of Alaska Anchorage students and Anchorage School District employees can attend for $50. Registration can be completed online.
The main focus is on physical activity, but speakers also will address psychological and social-emotional development of Alaska youth. Participants will hear a keynote address from Dan Bigley. Professionally, Bigley has a master’s degree in social work and is the clinical director at Denali Family Services. Many people in Alaska also know Bigley’s story of continuing to strive for his passions and goals after surviving a bear attack. Some of the other featured speakers include the following Alaska professionals:
Dr. Jean Marcey, a certified personal trainer, wellness coach and assistant professor who will talk about recognizing and using your strengths;
Robert “Trey” H. Coker, who earned a doctorate in Exercise Science and now teaches at the University of Fairbanks, will talk about the effectiveness of physical activity programs for Alaska Native children living in remote communities;
Lynne Young, a certified athletic trainer, will talk about the risk of concussions;
Eric Boyer, a training coordinator with the University of Alaska, will talk about the importance of physical activity in suicide prevention; and
Haley Hughes, a registered dietitian at Providence Alaska Medical Center, will talk about the best nutrition and hydration options for youth in sports.
Continuing Nursing Education certificates and professional development credits will be available. For more information about the PLAAY Summit, email Wallace Wilson.
1/7/2016 3:17 PM

For the first time, the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans has set a limit on the amount of added sugar to eat and drink each day for the best health.

The 2015 guidelines recommend that we limit our added sugars to less than 10 percent of the calories we eat and drink each day. Added sugars are sugars, syrups and other sweeteners that are added to foods or drinks when they are processed or prepared. Easy examples are the sugars added to soda, cookies and sweetened breakfast cereals. Added sugars do not include naturally occurring sugars, such as those in plain white milk and whole fruits.
These new guidelines reinforce Play Every Day’s mission to reduce the number of sugary drinks that Alaska children and families consume every day. In Alaska, high consumption of sugary drinks starts at a young age. One out of 5 Alaska parents of elementary-age children serves their children a sugary drink every day, and 2 out of 3 Alaska parents serve their kids sugary drinks one or more times each week, according to a recent state survey of hundreds of Alaska parents. Recent statewide surveys also showed that 42 percent of Alaska high school students and adults consume one or more sugary drinks every day.  
DietaryGuidelines.MyPlateMyWinsTips-1.jpgThe national Dietary Guidelines are revised every five years and issued jointly by the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. The new guidelines followed a review of the most current science around nutrition and issued recommendations to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. In Alaska, about 1 out of 3 children is overweight and obese, and 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese.
The Dietary Guidelines call for a reduction in how much sugar we eat and drink, but it turns out drinks can contribute the most to our daily sugar intake. Sugary drinks are the No. 1 source of added sugar in Americans’ daily diets. There is strong evidence that consuming sugary drinks is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay.
For many Americans, the new daily sugar limit will be a big change to how they eat and drink. The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day – in their sugary drinks, cereals, snack bars, spaghetti sauce, even condiments like ketchup. In order to meet the new daily limit on added sugars, they would need to significantly cut that sugar intake. According to the guidelines, a person eating an average 2,000-calorie daily diet should limit their daily sugar to about 12.5 teaspoons.
What does that look like?
It turns out you can eat — and drink —12 and a half teaspoons of sugar very quickly. A 20-ounce bottle of soda sold on grocery store shelves and in vending machines can have 16 teaspoons of added sugar. Drinking just that one bottle would take you over the daily limit — and that doesn’t even count the rest of the foods and drinks you’ll consume that day. A 16-ounce glass of a powdered orange drink in the morning — a common beverage in Alaska — has about 11 teaspoons of added sugar. Hand a child a sports drink on the soccer field and he’ll drink 9 teaspoons of added sugar in a few big gulps.
Play Every Day’s latest TV public service announcement and poster campaign show how sugar can add up during the day. Drinking a powdered drink for breakfast, a fruit-flavored sugary drink for lunch, a sports drink as a snack, and a can of soda for dinner can add up to 38 teaspoons of sugar from just the drinks alone. That’s more than three times the amount of sugar in the new guidelines’ limit for daily sugar intake.
Added sugars can be tricky to spot because they go by many different names, such as high fructose corn syrup, honey, glucose and sucrose. That’s why it’s important to read the ingredient list on the back of a drink or food container to find all the added sugars. If a sweetener by any name is in the first three ingredients, the food or drink is loaded with added sugars.
To reduce the amount of added sugar you drink every day, choose water or low-fat milk instead of sodas, sports drinks, powdered drinks and other sugary beverages. Make it easier to choose water by carrying a water bottle with you. Pack a water bottle in your child’s backpack or lunch box. Add a bit of flavor to your water by putting slices of lemon or lime or sprigs of mint into your glass.
For more information and tips to choose healthier drinks, visit the Play Every Day website.
1/5/2016 9:55 AM

In its first year, NANANordic took ski gear and coaches to villages in the NANA region to get kids doing something positive outside. They went to four villages and involved 18 coaches and 600 students in 2012.  

Now known as Skiku – a name that attaches the word “ski” to the Inupiaq word for ice – the program reached 40 communities and 4,500 kids from Bethel to Barrow in 2015. The program’s growth and success prompted the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition to select Skiku as one of 47 recipients for a PCFSN Community LeadeSkiKuShotBuckland.Resized. For.Jan.5.2016.jpgrship Award for making sports, physical activity, fitness, and nutrition-related programs available in their communities.
Lars Flora, a founder and director of Skiku, expects to reach the same number of students and communities in 2016. They will go to every community they went to last year, plus head to Elim and St. Mary’s for the first time.
The idea is to get kids outside doing something fun and healthy. One of the organization’s New Year’s resolutions is to make sure “every ski in our inventory is being used by community members and students to explore Alaska’s winter landscape,” said Flora, a two-time Olympian in cross-country skiing.
What’s cool, said Robin Kornfield, chairman of Nordic Journeys who has been with Skiku from the beginning, is that many communities already had skiing histories. “When we first started, we didn’t know there were places where people skied and had been doing it for 20 years,” she explained.
People in places like White Mountain and Unalakleet had come to Anchorage and skied in junior nationals, she added. These communities already had Nordic skiing legacies, as shared by Helen Spindler in this video.
What Skiku does is put volunteer coaches who are Olympians, World Cup racers, community coaches and elite high school athletes into villages where they spend a week teaching students how to ski and participate in biathlons, which combine skiing with precision rifle shooting. 
At the same time, the group leaves donated skis, boots and poles with the villages it visits so that community members can use gear whenever the snow flies.
New this year will be a ski race program in the 11 NANA region communities and volunteer involvement in Anchorage elementary schools, noted Kornfield.  
Come March and April, coaches will again travel by plane and skis to communities throughout the state. Here’s the Skiku coaching schedule this year:
·        March 7-11        Nome
·        March 8-15        Kuspuk School District, Bethel, Lower Yukon
·        March 14-18      Bering Strait School District
·        April 4-15          Northwest Arctic Borough School District
·        April 11-21        North Slope 
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-12</hide>December 2015 ‎(4)
12/30/2015 9:35 AM

As we cross off the last days on the 2015 calendar, many of us are thinking about how we’re going to make 2016 a great new year. What are we going to do differently, do better, or do more or less often?

Whether you call these resolutions or goals, the trick to making them stick is to set these goals with a few things in mind
·        Set a goal, write it down and create a plan to make it happen.
KikkanBike.jpgHere’s the goal Kikkan Randall recently wrote us about. Kikkan is a 4-time Olympic cross country skier who’s usually globetrotting right now, attacking the World Cup ski racing circuit throughout the winter. But this year is unusual in that she’s spending more time at home in Alaska: Kikkan is pregnant with her first child.
“My fitness goal for 2016 is to get outside and do at least three different winter activities every week,” she said. “Skiing, skating, sledding, snowshoeing and snow biking are some of my favorites!  Mixing up your activities makes playing every day fun and exciting.”
·        Pick one thing you want to focus on and go for it.
Fellow Olympic skier of Alaska, Sadie Bjornsen, said her goal is to enjoy the outdoors every single day.
“Whether I am doing the hardest running intervals, or I am hiking with my family, or I am spending hours on the road roller-skiing, I want to make sure I enjoy each and every breath of fresh air outside that I have,” she said. SadieSkiing.resized.jpg
Did you see how Sadie talked about her family? Another way to help make these resolutions stick is to get other people involved.
·        Share your goal with family and friends.
Sadie said she uses physical activity to chase her Olympic dreams, but also to stay healthy and happy.
“Bring friends, bring your family,” she said. “Share the most natural happy vibes there is in the world!”
12/21/2015 12:10 PM
In the 12 days of fitness, Healthy Futures partners with The Alaska Club in keeping kids motivated about physical activity through The Alaska Club Healthy Futures Winter Challenge.
Kids need to strive for 60 minutes of physical activity on the 12 days of winter break between Dec. 16 and Jan. 3 to complete the challenge. The first 200 kids who register will get stop watches and family day passes to The Alaska Club. Participation is free and doesn’t have to take place at The Alaska Club.
Last year, 300 kids participated, said Janet Warner, the executive director of Group Fitness, Fitness Programming and Family Recreation for The Alaska Club. “This year we changed the requirements slightly to align with the recommendation of 60 minutes of play each day or most days,” she added.
KidSkiingSmileDec.21.jpgKids can choose how and where they want to get moving, whether outside or in, by ice skating, sledding, swimming, dancing, doing yoga, just getting outside, or playing soccer, volleyball, or freeze tag.
Families can also stay active during the darkest days of the year by joining in community fun runs and events, or just making a point of going for walks together.
Alyse Loran, the Healthy Futures Coordinator, suggests skating, skiing and joining group activities. She lives in Anchorage, for example, and noted that the Municipality of Anchorage plans to hot mop Westchester Lagoon. There are rinks all around town, she added, but it pays to check ice conditions before heading out the door. The city also has a winter activity guide with more options.
“The snow making loop at Kincaid is great right now,” said Loran. “And the Hillside trails are ready for rock skis [old skis you don’t mind banging up!]. Just a little more snow and we should be skiing everywhere again.”
12/14/2015 8:34 AM
Elementary schools across Alaska can sign up for the Spring Healthy Futures Challenge starting today.
If your school is interested, don’t wait too long to sign up. Healthy Futures will be registering schools online on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 14. The free physical activity challenge will run February through April and award prizes to K-6 students who log their physical activity and turn in activity logs at the end of each month. This fall, 160 schools from 36 school districts in Alaska participated in the Challenge.
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Play Every Day is partnering with Healthy Futures to reach the goal of registering 200 elementary schools from across the state for the Spring Challenge. Schools that sign up early will have a chance to win some great prizes, including a gift card to buy physical activity equipment for the school, as well as Healthy Futures and Play Every Day T-shirts for students and staff.
Play Every Day and Healthy Futures have partnered for the past four years to help empower Alaska’s kids to build the healthy habit of daily physical activity. Just four years ago, only 36 elementary schools and about 1,300 individual students participated in the Healthy Futures Challenge. This fall, more than 15,700 individual students participated in the 160 schools. That’s more than 1 in 5 elementary-age students in Alaska logging their physical activity to meet the challenge.
Sign up your school today to help more Alaska kids have a free, fun way to be physically active every day – and win prizes along the way.
12/1/2015 12:29 PM

Can having your class film a short video about choosing water instead of sugary drinks have an effect that goes beyond the work done in the classroom?

Julie Yates’ third grade class at Craig Elementary School showed that the answer is yes. Definitely.
To participate in Play Every Day’s second video contest for Alaska elementary schools, Yates’ class needed to come up with a script and then film a 30-second video about why water and low-fat milk are healthier drinks than sugary beverages, like soda, powdered mixes and sports drinks. Their video won second place in the contest.
2015-PSA-2-Place-Craig.pngWhile producing their video, Yates and her 14 students accepted a bigger challenge. They decided they would only drink healthy drinks, like water and milk, during the weeks it took them to film the project.
Yates said one student took that challenge home with him. His family went out for pizza once a week, the one time a week his mother allowed him to pick any drink he wanted, even soda. The boy told his mother he’d have milk instead. When the question came up again about what he wanted to drink, the boy stuck to his plan. No soda. Just milk.
The health message the class focused on in their video “sunk in so well,” said Yates.
Yates’ class worked hard to make that message sink in. Yates tied health class into the video project. She invited a local woman who was a public health professional to do a presentation about healthy and unhealthy drinks. She showed the students how many teaspoons of sugar were hiding in sugary drinks. (The answer is a lot. Check out the Play Every Day poster series that compares the amount of added sugar in common treats — think doughnuts, cookies, and ice cream sandwiches — and sugary drinks like sodas, sports drinks and more.)
Yates then added math to the project. The students were focusing on estimation, so she asked each student to think of a sugary drink they liked and estimate how much sugar it contained. They talked about chocolate shakes, sports drinks and other sugary beverages.  Then they researched how much actual sugar was added to these drinks. They plotted their drinks and the added teaspoons of sugar on a bar graph to compare them.
“They were just astonished,” said Yates, referring to her students’ discovery of how much sugar was hiding in their drinks. “Several of them went home and shared it with their parents.”
Yates then brought in the music teacher. The students had to come up with a script. What if the script incorporated a jingle and some rhythm to make the words more fun? The students practiced a routine in which they drummed on empty cups and passed them around in a circle. While doing that, they sang their message:
“Sugar, sugar everywhere. Let’s compare, let’s compare. How much sugar is in your cup? Too much sugar, you’ll go amok.
“Water and a healthy snack is all it takes to bounce right back.”
Yates, who has been teaching for 20 years at the Craig City School District, said she’s always looking for activities that challenge and engage her students in many ways. That’s why the Play Every Day video contest attracted her when she saw an announcement for it.
“My class is just hungry and thirsty for activities,” she said. “They have a lot of energy and motivation. I was just wanting to take an opportunity like this to see where they could go with it.”
They stuck with it until the end. They did what the project asked – film a video – but in the process they learned about math, music and other important subjects.
“I think that’s what really makes it so meaningful,” Yates said.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-11</hide>November 2015 ‎(3)
11/24/2015 2:20 PM

When Marisa Glieco saw the announcement for the Play Every Day video contest for Alaska elementary schools, she decided to put it to a classroom vote.

Glieco, the fifth grade teacher at Lake Otis Elementary in the Anchorage School District, asked her 30 students to raise their hands if they wanted to create a 30-second video promoting water and low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks like soda, powdered mixes and sports drinks.
School-PSA-Poster-2015.resized.jpgAlmost every hand in the class went up.
That started it, and from there Glieco’s class got to work on what would be the winning entry for this year’s Play Every Day video contest for Alaska elementary schools.
One of the rules of the contest was to put the kids in charge of the final video, and that’s exactly what Glieco did.
She asked her students to write down the top three jobs they wanted in film production, and then write a letter to her explaining why they’d be good at those jobs. They vied for jobs like designing the props, putting together the costumes, auditioning the actors, filming the video on iPads, even editing the final video. The students took charge of the entire production.  Glieco just provided direction when needed, but even then she had two students who were picked as the video directors and they took charge of managing all steps from start to finish.
“For the most part, I wanted to give them ownership,” said Glieco, the only teacher in Alaska to participate in the Play Every Day video contest two years in a row. Last year, her third and fourth grade class turned in a creative video using Lego animation to show all the fun ways you could get your 60 minutes of physical activity every day. During the past two years, eight schools in five Alaska school districts turned in videos promoting physical activity and healthy drinks during Play Every Day’s video contests designed for elementary schools.
Glieco’s whole class brainstormed ideas for the video’s script this year. Maybe they should include a water-bottle super hero? What if they included Glieco’s dog in the video? Would that work?
“I was really proud of them,” she said. “It was just really neat to see their creativity come out.”
In the end, the Lake Otis class turned in two videos.  One film was a play on an existing candy bar commercial, but this time the focus was on showing that water — not sugary drinks — satisfies. The second, winning video was a play on a game show, asking students to name the healthiest beverages to quench their thirst. After mistakenly guessing soda and juice, the student in the role of the game show host announces that water is the best drink to hydrate us when we’re thirsty. She then announces that it’s time for a message from our sponsors, and the video cuts to a group of students playing outside. A boy runs up to a bottle of water and drinks it, while words about water are spoken at a very fast-paced clip:
“The positive side effects for drinking water is you stay hydrated, it gives you power, and helps you avoid cavities. It is better than any other sports drinks, soda, or juice. Finally if you drink water you will be able to play every day!”
This speedy read about water was student Arlin Galovin’s idea. He’d seen it done at the end of ads promoting medicines, and he wanted to try it on their video promoting water.
“I thought it would be funny, and people would laugh,” he said. (For the record, the Play Every Day judges scoring this video laughed very hard.)
Students said working on the video project taught them how to work together and complete a project as a class. They had fun while learning how to do their jobs to finish the video. They also learned that some drinks are marketed as healthy, but they’re often not.
“When they say in commercials it’s a healthy drink, it’s really not,” said student Cizzne Mendoza. “There’s sugar in it.”
Instead, the students said, drinking water or milk is better for you than drinking sugary drinks — a message made clear in their winning video.
11/17/2015 1:06 PM

We walk by water fountains all day long. They’re in the hallways at school. They’re in our offices. They’re next to the bathrooms at the stores where we shop.

Why stop, rather than walk by them?
Play Every Day has the answer in a colorful poster that reminds you about how refreshing water tastes and how hydrating it is.  Water’s free at the fountain, after all, and you can drink it right there or put it in a cup or water bottle for later. Better yet, it hydrates without added sugars.
DrinkWaterResized.jpgPlay Every Day’s new “Drink Water” poster aims to put its very simple message above water fountains or water-bottle filling stations in schools and other facilities throughout Alaska to encourage people to drink up or fill up. This message is key to Play Every Day’s campaign focused on motivating Alaska families to drink fewer sugary drinks (like soda, sports drinks and powdered mixes) and choose water, fat-free milk or low-fat milk instead.
With the help of our partner, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, we sent our “Drink Water” posters to hundreds of rural and urban Alaska schools, tribal partners, public health clinics, and Community Health Aide and Dental Health Aide clinics.
Would you like “Drink Water” posters to hang in your school, office or building? You can download the posters for free in various sizes and formats, or request printed posters to be sent to you. Just visit our Resources website and see what educational materials are available at no cost.
Once at the site, you’ll find our video public service announcements (PSAs) focused on drinking fewer sugary drinks and choosing water, fat-free milk or low-fat milk instead. Some clinics in Alaska are running these PSAs in their waiting rooms. Please let us know if you’d like these PSAs on discs to be aired in your buildings.
You’ll also find our print materials and our sugary drinks lesson plan designed for Alaska elementary schools. Part of the lesson plan is online here. If you’re an educator and haven’t received a copy of the complete lesson plan, or you’re someone looking for printed posters and other materials, please email us at We’ll send you the plan and any other materials that will help share the message about the importance of choosing water or milk instead of sugary drinks for the best health.
11/3/2015 10:29 AM

Sidney C. Huntington School in Galena is one of the newest schools to sign up for the free Healthy Futures Challenge, and the students in this small Interior village are taking it seriously — very seriously.

Teacher Jared Carlson reported 100 percent participation by his 57 students in elementary and middle school for the month of September. He’s planning for 100 percent participation for October, too.

HFC log.jpgCarlson, the physical education teacher in Galena, taught in Unalakleet last year and watched the students there participate in the physical activity challenge, which encourages young students to be active at least 60 minutes a day for 15 days each month. If students log that activity and turn their log sheets into their schools, they can win prizes and the school can be eligible for grants that support buying physical activity equipment.
“I wanted to find a way to encourage the kids to move every day,” Carlson said. “All of them did it.”
One student moved to Galena after the Challenge had started this fall. Carlson said he had forgotten to tell the student about the Challenge, but no matter: The other classmates made sure the new student knew about it and gave him a log sheet to fill out.
The Fall Challenge will run through November in schools throughout the state. Though the Challenge started in mainly urban school districts in Alaska like Anchorage and Juneau, it has spread to communities small and large in 35 school districts during the past four years.
This year, the nonprofit program Healthy Futures and the state-run Play Every Day campaign partnered with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to promote daily physical activity and increased Healthy Futures participation in schools in rural, and often remote, areas of the state. As a result, new schools signed up from communities on the Aleutians Islands all the way to villages above the Arctic Circle. About 185 Alaska elementary schools have signed up for the Fall Challenge.
About 11,000 elementary students across Alaska have already been logging their physical activity this fall. Elementary schools in Savoonga and Kiana participated for the first time this fall, with about a third of students in both schools turning in physical activity logs. Ketchikan Charter School reported high participation, with 95 of 128 students turning in physical activity logs, said Alyse Loran, who oversees the Challenge for the Healthy Futures program.
In Galena, Carlson makes participation in the Healthy Futures Challenge a part of the students’ physical education grade. His elementary students get the nationally recommended amount of physical education of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Students also get 15 minutes of daily recess. After that, students find their own way to put in the remaining minutes of activity to meet the 60-minute daily goal for good health. Carlson said they’ve logged their time hiking, fishing, playing soccer, playing hide and seek, even moose hunting.
“Basketball is huge,” he said. Galena also has an indoor swimming pool, which helps the kids stay active throughout the year.
To show support, Carlson fills out a Healthy Futures log and puts it on his classroom door. He writes down his time participating in physical education class, playing volleyball, and walking to and from school – a 2 ½ mile trek each way.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-10</hide>October 2015 ‎(3)
10/28/2015 11:18 AM

It’s just one soda with dinner. What’s the harm?

That’s the opening line of Play Every Day’s newest public service announcement running on Alaska TV stations.
In just 30 seconds, the PSA flashes back to the sugary drinks a boy consumes at breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. At the same time, a split screen shows the sugar adding up in a glass. By the end, the boy consumes 38 teaspoons of sugar, almost a cup, just from sugary drinks that day. The take-home message is to skip all those sugary drinks and choose water or low-fat milk for the best health.
DrinkWaterResized.jpgPlay Every Day is using its message to bring attention to sugary drinks, the No. 1 source of added sugar in our daily diets. The American Heart Association has set limits for how much sugar adults should eat or drink, namely 6 to 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s less sugar than what you’d find in a single can of soda, or a bottle of a sports drink or a fruit-flavored drink.
The campaign goes beyond raising awareness and inspires families to reduce the amount of sugary drinks served to children. Sugary drinks are linked with a number of serious health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. In Alaska, one out of three children is overweight or obese and two out of three adults are overweight or obese. 
Play Every Day’s new sugary drink messages build on last year’s about how much sugar was hiding in sugary drinks. Those messages put sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and powdered drinks alongside easily recognizable food comparisons. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda could contain as much sugar as 16 chocolate mini doughnuts, and a 20-ounce sports drink could have as much sugar as 10 chocolate chip cookies.
We’ve created a new set of posters that match the new TV messages and have sent them to hundreds of Alaska schools, health clinics and tribal partners. We also created and posted a new school lesson plan that involves showing students the PSA and using a special pop-up poster to show how sugar adds up during the day. The videos, posters, print materials, and lesson plan are posted online. To request a printed lesson plan or any other Play Every Day material, please email
The Play Every Day campaign also focuses on the importance of daily physical activity for the best health and maintaining a healthy weight. The campaign promotes at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day for children and supports participation in the Healthy Futures Challenge, a free school-based physical activity challenge. It’s not too late for elementary schools to sign up for the challenge online.
10/13/2015 9:44 AM

Kids might groan about running the mile, but they’ll run plenty of them when playing games like tag and capture the flag with friends. That’s what the Girls on the Run program counts on.

Now in over 225 cities in North America, Girls on the Run focuses on getting pre-adolescent girls physically active through group games and activities while helping them build a strong sense of identity, power and resilience.
Already in Juneau and Homer, the program launched in Cordova this fall and will finish its first session with a community-wide 5K fun run on Oct. 31. Nicole Songer, a volunteer coach and executive director for the Cordova Family Resource Center, said the girls love it. “They’re learning things through games, they’re getting exercise through activities, and they don’t even realize they’re running a lot.”
CordovaGirlsontheRun.Oct13.2015.jpgIn Cordova the program will help girls get the recommended 60 minutes of Play Every Day and contribute to domestic and sexual violence prevention. The Family Resource Center received a one-time prevention grant from the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault to start the program, which typically includes up to 20 girls per session.
“I have seen in these few short weeks girls that would barely speak sharing their views and ideas,” said Songer. Other girls who weren’t getting out and having fun with friends were now “creating a new support group of peers and adults.”
They also learn their differences and embrace them, come to understand what teamwork and friendship mean, and learn to “unplug the negative plug.” That means countering the negative self-talk kids get exposed to on TV, radio and social media – the “you’re not good enough” messages that bombard kids and can become the stories they begin to believe about themselves.
All kids get these messages and need guidance in knowing how to combat them. Cordova has had a basketball program for boys through the Choose Respect Initiative for a few years now.
“We would hear people say, ‘What about the girls?’” said Songer. Now she has the answer; the he community has a positive plug for them, too.

To start a program, communities need to organize a council, get adult volunteers to coach, and submit an initial application and membership fee to the nonprofit, Girls on the Run International, at


Photo courtesy of the Cordova Family Resource Center.

Caption: Girls on the Run group talks about bullying and how to address it during a lesson between physical activities.  

10/6/2015 12:03 PM

Attention all fourth graders in Alaska. This is your lucky year!

To celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, fourth graders and their families can receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that gives free access to hundreds of national parks, lands and waters for one year. Each pass says “Use as often as you like through August 2016.”
“Because no matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters – these places are your birthright as Americans,” said President Barack Obama on the Every Kid in a Park website.
8-USFWS-Canoe-Alaska.Resized500x.Oct.13.15.jpgPresident Obama recently hiked and boated near glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park during his visit to Alaska, a state with 23 national parks, preserves, historic areas and monuments. Want some ideas of where to go?
·        Denali – Visit the park with North America’s tallest peak.
·        Gates of the Arctic – Looking for a park with no roads or trails? This would be it.
·        Glacier Bay – This park is loaded with a variety of habitats, from glaciers to rainforests.
·        Katmai – Brown bears can put on quite a show in this park.
·        Kenai Fjords – By foot or by boat, see glaciers, animals and all the bounty of the fjords.
·        Kobuk Valley – Did you know you can find sand dunes in Alaska?
·        Lake Clark- Explore an area with steaming volcanoes and turquoise-colored lakes.
·        Wrangell – St. Elias – Spend time in America’s largest national park at 13.2 million acres.
Here’s how fourth-grade students, or 10-year-olds, can get a “Every Kid in a Park” pass.
1.   Go online to complete a short activity.
2.   After completing the activity, you’ll get a voucher for a free 4th Grade Annual Pass. (If you want, you can exchange your paper vouchers for a keepsake pass at certain national park locations.)
3.   Print the vouchers.
4.   Pick a park! Take your voucher with you to show to the park ranger at the entrance to any national park. If there’s no park ranger, you can put the pass on the dashboard of your family’s car.
11-NPS-Minute Man NHP.Resized500x.Oct.13.15.jpgYou and your families will have free access to the national parks through August 30, 2016. If you visit a national park site that charges entrance fees, the pass will give you free access to all children under 16 years old and up to three adults traveling with the fourth-grader. The pass does not cover camping, boats and special tours.

Now, if you’re in fourth grade, don’t delay. Get online and take just five minutes to get a year’s worth of free fun and adventure in America’s national parks.


Top photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Laubenstein, Ronald.

Bottom photo courtesy of National Park Service.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-09</hide>September 2015 ‎(5)
9/29/2015 9:29 AM

In student-made videos from last year’s Play Every Day PSA contest, kids shared the many ways they like to play – skiing, running, dancing, playing tag, climbing, zig-zagging over the playground, and just goofing off in the snow.

This year’s PSA contest invites students from Alaska public elementary schools to tackle a different message about how sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and powdered drinks can add up to weight gain, tooth decay and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The main message is simple: drink water instead. 
School-PSA-Poster-2015.jpgMarisa Glieco’s third- and fourth-grade class at Lake Otis Elementary created a video last year. As the class came up with ideas and produced the PSA, she noticed how much kids really do care about their healthy and unhealthy habits, and how they want to share what they’re doing to improve their health.
“I really enjoyed watching the students work together and learn from one another,” she said.  “I believe that this is just a great relatable interactive way to get our students involved with the promotion of healthy habits.”
Her fifth-grade class this year has already narrowed their ideas down to two and will plot them out to see which will work in the 30-second time frame. She pretty much leaves everything from the brainstorming to the editing to the kids.
“They are brilliant and I love how they come up with ideas and piggy back off each other,” she said, “as well as how they start to find out what they would like to do - costume design, set design, directing, acting. It really is something that is difficult to explain - it is just such a passion project for myself and them - that all comes together organically.”
Students from public schools all over the state submitted 11 videos last year, and Play Every Day hopes to see even more this time around.
Creators of the top three videos, along with their schools, will receive gift cards or other prizes that support getting physically active and drinking water. Their PSAs will also appear as public service announcements online and through social media.
The PSA contest is open to all public elementary students and is free to enter. The deadline is 5 p.m., Oct. 30, 2015, and forms and rules are available at Play Every Day.
9/22/2015 10:52 AM

This fall, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) started a new partnership with Play Every Day to get messages about physical activity and healthy drinks to families in rural communities, including some of the most remote communities in the state.

The goal of the Play Every Day campaign is to prevent and reduce childhood obesity — a serious health concern throughout Alaska. About 1 out of 3 children in Alaska is overweight or obese, and 2 out of 3 Alaska adults are overweight or obese. This puts thousands of Alaskans of all ages at risk for weight-related chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Our vision at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is that Alaska Native people are the healthiest in the world. Partnering with Play Every Day is a natural fit as we are both working toward the same goal — to prevent serioKeep a Healthy Smile Poster ANTHC. Resized 500x.jpgus chronic health problems like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues that can affect Alaskans from childhood all the way into adulthood,” said Erin Peterson, Wellness Strategies for Health Program Manager with ANTHC. “Play Every Day will be able to share educational materials that promote good health with families from Ketchikan to Unalaska to Point Hope.”
To improve the health of Alaska families, Play Every Day has focused its messages on two key areas: increasing the amount of physical activity that families get each day and reducing the number of sugary drinks they consume (think sodas, sports and energy drinks, powdered drinks and more).
In August and September, ANTHC helped Play Every Day air a TV public service announcement promoting 60 minutes of daily physical activity for the best health. The PSA also encourages children to participate in the free Healthy Futures Challenge.
ANTHC, Play Every Day and Healthy Futures are working together to increase the number of students who take the physical activity challenge that asks students to be active at least 60 minutes a day for 15 days each month. Students can add up all their activity each day — including activity during gym class and recess — to reach the 60-minute goal. Students and schools will win prizes for their participation. Elementary schools throughout Alaska can still sign up for the challenge.  
This month, about 100 schools in rural Alaska and Alaska Native tribal partners will receive Play Every Day posters to hang as reminders for being physically active and choosing water instead of sugary drinks. These posters are all found online here. If you’d like posters to hang in your school, office or business, please email
9/15/2015 9:20 AM

Anchorage will get some well-deserved national attention at the White House in a Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties event Sept. 16 that will acknowledge Anchorage and 51 other cities for obtaining five gold medals in five core obesity prevention areas.

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive obesity prevention initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010. Anchorage Assembly Vice-Chair Elvi Gray-Jackson and Chief Fiscal Officer Alden Thern will represent Anchorage at the gathering.
Gray-Jackson will even get the honor of introducing the First Lady.

This recognition of Anchorage’s efforts to reduce obesity results from a task force launched by Gray-Jackson and fellow Assembly member Dick Traini in grayjackson-6839.croppedx500.jpgFebruary 2014. The group included advocates and representatives from nonprofits, the Anchorage School District, community groups, and state and municipal agencies (including Alaska’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program and Play Every Day campaign). The task force documented and helped implement programs that met five Let’s Move! goals:
·         Start Early, Start Smart
·         MyPlate, Your Place
·         Smart Servings for Students
·         Model Food Service
·         Active Kids at Play
“Because of obesity prevention activities already taking place, mostly through efforts of the State and the Anchorage School District, the task force reached its goals in record time,” said Gray-Jackson. “I was impressed to see our community, with such high obesity numbers, taking the lead to improve the situation. Because Anchorage is one of the few cities reaching gold in all five goals, it really puts our community on the map. We are leaders in the Far North.” 
Obesity Prevention has come a long way, said Melanie Sutton, the Curriculum Coordinator for Health & Physical Education with the Anchorage School District. “The recognition of these accomplishments through the Let's Move! Anchorage awards is an affirmation that our efforts have been in the right direction,” she said.
The same day that Gray-Jackson introduces the First Lady, kids in Anchorage and Eagle River will be running in the Beach Lake Area Jamboree at Chugiak High School. The Anchorage School District elementary Jamborees will draw over 6,000 elementary students and even volunteers to cross-country trails across the city this week, according to Sutton.
Allowing kids to do what gives them joy makes all the difference in developing lifetime habits around physical activity, said Dr. Pete Mjos, a physician and advocate who participated in the recent task force. He hopes that national recognition will draw local attention to the 2006 Municipality of Anchorage Ten Year Plan on Obesity and Health.
The plan provides a rigorous strategy for increasing physical activity, improving access to nutritional food, and creating safe and accessible environments for people to get out and play, he said. “For me, the most significant thing is beyond the goal of getting recognized. What has been achieved and recognized should only be the foundation of what still needs to be done and implemented.”
Photo: Assembly Vice-Chair Elvi Gray-Jackson
9/9/2015 9:11 AM

Last fall we tried something new. We asked Alaska kids to pick up a video camera and film students choosing fun ways to get out and play.

It was a hit. We received 11 videos from all over the state, so we’re doing it again this year.
With a twist.School-PSA-Poster-2015.jpg
This year, Play Every Day’s video PSA contest challenges elementary school students across Alaska to film a video that motivates kids to put down sugary drinks and choose water or low-fat milk. The contest starts now and the deadline for entries is Friday, October 30.
Play Every Day has been airing PSAs, or public service announcements, on TV for the past year that focus on the large amount of sugar hiding in drinks. It’s not just soda that’s loaded with sugar. Sports and energy drinks, powdered drinks, and vitamin-enhanced drinks come with large amounts of sugar that can lead to serious health problems, like tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. Our PSAs end with our take-home message: Choose healthier drinks. Drink water or low-fat milk.
Our PSAs are all online here. If you held the camera to tell the story, what would your PSA look like?
You have a chance to show us during the next two months. Here’s how it works:
Who: All Alaska public elementary school students in grades K-6. All entries must be supported and sponsored by a teacher or another adult school staff member. Students should take the lead in the creative direction and production, but an adult can advise students and help with the filming.
What: Make a 25-second public service announcement (PSA) video that motivates Alaska kids and families to choose water or low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and powdered drinks.
When: Start now! Come up with your ideas, film the video and turn it in by 5 p.m. October 30, 2015.
Where: Film at your school or in your communities.
Why: Kids have creative ideas, and we want to see how you would help spread the message about the importance of choosing healthy drinks.
A panel of judges from the Play Every Day campaign will select the top three videos based on overall presentation, creativity, quality and adherence to the contest criteria. The school that films the first-place video will receive a $500 gift card to buy physical activity equipment for the school, plus Play Every Day T-shirts and a reusable Play Every Day water cup for participating students, teachers and the principal. Prizes also are available for the second- and third-place entries.
Want more information about the contest? Please visit our webpage to learn more.
We can’t wait to see what you create!
9/1/2015 3:02 PM

It’s time to lace up those sneakers, zip up that coat and head outside to play. The Healthy Futures Challenge begins this week with a brand new goal for thousands of Alaska kids:

To complete the Challenge, students will do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
HFC photo option 2 Cropped 500x.jpg
This fall, more than 180 Alaska elementary schools — including 61 elementary schools in the Anchorage School District — signed up for the free Healthy Futures Challenge. Participating kindergarten through sixth-grade students will hike, bike, jump, run, skate or ski their way to 60 minutes of activity a day. They can count their activity at recess, during gym class, and add in time before and after school and on weekends. If they hit the 60-minute mark at least half the days of the month and log their activity on a simple form, they will win prizes for each month of the Challenge.
“We’re trying to help Alaska kids get closer to the national recommendation of 60 minutes of daily physical activity for the best health,” said Harlow Robinson, executive director of the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Healthy Futures is the signature program of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. 
It’s not too late for Alaska elementary schools to sign up for the Healthy Futures Challenge, which runs September, October and November. Principals or teachers can sign up their schools by visiting the Healthy Futures website this fall.
There are plenty of low-cost and no-cost physical activities around Alaska to help kids hit their 60-minute goal for the Challenge. Families in the Anchorage area can participate in the Tuesday Night Race series, which kicks off on Sept. 8 at Kincaid Park and ends Nov. 3. The series has races for all types of runners, including the youngest participants — called Munchkins — who run and walk a 1-3K course through the woods.
The popular Anchorage School District Elementary Cross-Country Jamborees also count. Many schools prepare for these free fun runs by organizing after-school running clubs; ask your children’s schools how they’re participating.
Here’s the schedule for upcoming Jamborees:
·        Beach Lake Trails (Eagle River) Jamboree – Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Chugiak High School soccer fields and trails starting at 5 p.m.
·        South Anchorage Jamboree – Saturday, Sept. 19, at Service High School starting at 9:30 a.m.
·        North Anchorage Jamboree – Monday, Sept. 21, at Bartlett High School starting at 5 p.m. 
There are many more physical activity events scheduled all over Alaska. Visit the Healthy Futures calendar to find out what’s happening in your community.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-08</hide>August 2015 ‎(2)
8/26/2015 11:19 AM

Everyone knows the feeling. You can barely keep your eyes open, you keep forgetting things, your energy is low and the minutes take forever to pass — all signs that you didn’t get enough sleep.

With kids, though, inadequate sleep can look a lot different.

“It’s generally the opposite,” said Dr. Ross William Dodge, a pediatric sleep specialist at PEAK Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Anchorage.
“If a 6-year-old misses a nap, they bounce off the walls. The presentation of sleep deprivation is hyperactivity, behavioral opposition — they don’t pay attention, they don’t listen, they don’t do well in school.”GirlHeadInHands350x.jpg

A sleep deficit limits a child’s ability to cope with stress, solve problems and focus on school work, said Rita Kittoe, a public health nurse. An ongoing lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, a reduced ability to fight off colds, and aggressive or inappropriate behavior, she added.
“The body spends 20 to 30 years sleeping over the lifetime,” said Dr. Bill Lucht of the Alaska Sleep Clinic. “It’s not just an accident. Sleep conserves energy. It allows the processing of emotional content. It restores brain function and memory. It allows the body to replenish itself and do reparative work.”
Simply put, a chronic lack of sleep impacts all the body systems, said Dodge, and can create a constant state of inflammation that leads to the digestive system’s poor processing of food and a resulting craving for carbohydrates. The cycle continues when weight gain leads to insufficient sleep, and insufficient sleep to more weight gain.
The amount of sleep people need varies and changes with age, but the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends that school-age children get at least 10 hours a day.
Nationally, between 30 percent and 40 percent of children have some consistent sleep-related complaint, Dodge said, and about 10 to 12 percent have some form of organic or physical sleep problem.
Inadequate sleep in kids can have lifelong health impacts. It affects their response time, as well as their ability to learn and make decisions — increasing the risk of accidents, said Lucht. The metabolic effects can lead to obesity and diabetes, he added, and people who don’t get enough sleep tend to have more social problems and lower incomes than those who do.
What’s a parent to do? Dr.DodgeHeadShot (2013).jpeg

“It’s very, very basic what you do,” said Dodge. “Kids have a hard time when presented with multiple options. That’s where the parents need to set a bedtime routine that doesn’t vary. That doesn’t mean you have to set an alarm clock and have a rigorous schedule, but the general motions need to stay pretty set. Kids will fall into the routine themselves once it becomes a pattern in the household.”
(Photo: Dr. Ross Dodge) 
It can take weeks for everyone in the house to adapt to new routines, but pushing through the hard part will reap great rewards for the entire family. If a child still has problems after following a healthy bedtime routine, talk to a pediatrician or sleep doctor. There could be a medical solution.
Keep in mind that some kids, such as extreme high performers and children with autism, Down syndrome or behavioral disorders, have higher rates of sleep disorders.
Sleep problems are worse now than ever before, said Dr. Lucht, which
“probably reflects the pressures of society, of constantly being in touch with work, of not being able to get away from the office.”
Don’t ignore the symptoms or wait until sleep problems become substantial.  Set a bedtime routine and stick to it; create an environment where noise, light and other factors don’t get in the way of falling to sleep; and see a doctor if sleep problems continue after weeks of following a good routine.
Getting enough sleep doesn’t just make waking up easier; it prepares us for the challenges each day brings.

Learn more about how sleep impacts health at the National Sleep Foundation and the CDC.


Photo courtesy of Dr. Ross William Dodge.

8/18/2015 10:06 AM

Pamela Skogstad of Hope, Alaska, created a special ball. 

She filled it with steel birdshot to give it sound. The weight made the ball roll slower, so it wouldn’t travel too far when kicked.
Just like that, she adapted a ball that shows just how easy and simple it can be to help children of all abilities get physically active.
Skogstad with adapted ball.jpgFor the past 25 years, Skogstad has worked with children in school districts all over Alaska to help physical education teachers and teacher assistants learn how to make physical activity possible for all children, regardless of their physical, emotional or social abilities. Adapting the ball is just one example.  
Growing up in Wisconsin, Skogstad knew from a young age that there was a big demand for professionals to help children with disabilities get physically active. “I realized that — and it was really obvious — that kids with disabilities were excluded from activities and sports,” said Skogstad.  
Why? Because teachers and teaching assistants do not have training in how to include children with disabilities in physical activity, she said, and if they do not have knowledge about disabilities, the expectation and need for play, and activities that should be avoided, it can be difficult and unsettling for them to include children with disabilities.
Skogstad, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in adaptive physical education, has partnered with the Alaska Health and Disability Program to visit school districts in Juneau, Fairbanks, Alaska Gateway, Barrow, Kodiak and other regions in Alaska to show PE teachers and teacher assistants how to modify physical activities to include all children. Children of all abilities, she said, benefit from physical activity. It’s all about understanding children’s needs and finding ways to make activity happen for them.
If the whole class is going for a walk, a student who uses a walker can still be involved. He may be able to walk only a quarter of the distance, but he’s still being active with his classmates and friends.
“That’s huge for this student,” Skogstad said.
Skogstad said teachers need to pay special consideration to weather. A child with spina bifida, a birth defect which affects the spinal cord, may have limited sensation of cold temperatures when playing outside.
“You have to really pay attention because they can get frostbite really easy,” Skogstad said.
Kids who struggle with sensory issues, such as children with autism, benefit from partnering with peers during physical activity, she said. Sometimes Skogstad works with children who have many health care needs, such as requiring a wheelchair, suctioning of the airway, and breathing with an oxygen tank.
“This student cannot tell you, ‘Man, it would really be great if I could just stretch my arms,’” she said, but stretching is exactly what that student needs. Skogstad can train PE teachers how to use large balls and other tools to help these children move. 
To learn more about Skogstad’s work, visit

Photo of Pam Skogstad with adapted ball, courtesy of Pam Skogstad.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-07</hide>July 2015 ‎(3)
7/31/2015 2:45 PM

Alaskans learn quickly that summers are short and it’s best to get out and enjoy the glorious days while we have them.

There are so many fun and healthy family activities that we lose count.
August, for example is “running month.” Mosquitoes are almost gone, cottonwoods have seeded, grass is still green and the clover is blooming along running trails.
Anchorage’s Big Wild Life Runs extend over several days from Aug. 13–15 with running events for all levels and ages, including a pasta feed, and inspiring clinics.
If you and your family are already into running, then you’re no doubt aware of the variety of runs available. But, if you are just getting into the occasional jog, and you would like to include your children in a healthy family activity, Big Wild Life Runs is just for you.
 Big.Wild.Life. Marathon 2014-kids-with-medals-960x320.jpg
“Hundreds of kids come out for a chance to get some exercise, meet inspiring athletes in our community and participate in the Family Health and Safety Day on the Delaney Park Strip,” said Race Director Sharron Fisherman.
VIP guests this year are Jeff Galloway and Bart Yasso, and you can do a “run/walk” with them both mornings, Aug. 13 and 14, starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Hotel Captain Cook Lobby, 939 W. Fifth Ave.
Galloway, a 1972 U.S. Olympian (10,000 meters), is a Runner’s World magazine columnist and has run for more than 50 years, over 30 without injury. Yasso is the Chief Running Officer (sounds like a great job!) for Runner’s World and has completed races on all seven continents.
Now for the main event on Aug. 15:
The Kids’ 2K (about 1.2 miles) fun run starts at the Delaney Park Strip near 9th Ave. and G St. at 9:30 a.m., followed by Family Health and Safety Day. Each kid receives a hat and a medal. The event is free, but all participants must register and receive their bibs before the start of the race. Parents may run with their kids and do not need to register. Sign up at ChronoTrack Live. Children must be 12 years of age or younger to participate.

There are too many great events and runs for teens and adults to list here – from the mile run to the 49K ultra – so find the one that fits your family and sign up now.

Photo courtesy Big Wild Life Runs

7/22/2015 4:16 PM

The forests, wetlands, and fields of Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in Fairbanks provide a remarkable space for witnessing the diversity of wild lands and wildlife while getting the family outside.

With 2,000 acres, 150 within the city of Fairbanks, the refuge includes accessible trails, bird viewing areas, interpretive materials, and the farmhouse and barns once occupied by the Interior’s largest dairy.
“There is a huge range of habitats in this small area,” said Christine Huff, executive director of Friends of Creamer’s Field, a nonprofit that runs camps, events, nature walks and other eduCreamers-hrm-photobyHerbMelchoir.jpgcational activities in the refuge. “It’s really a pretty unique place. Some people have likened it to Central Park. It’s a chance to feel like you’re getting into the wilderness for a little bit — there’s a whole lot here to see in such a small space.”
Depending on timing, you might see migratory birds, foxes, woodchucks, even a distant moose while wandering through forests with birch, aspen, poplar, tamarack, and spruce. Educational materials cover topics like the role of wildland fire, an explanation of permafrost, and an overview of some of the changes caused by people.
Last week, the refuge reopened the Boreal Forest Trail, which suffered damage during last year’s flooding. “We had so much rain last summer, and parts of our refuge are parts of old riverbed channels, so we have boardwalks that washed out,” explained Huff.
Creamer'sFieldboardwalkrepair.byCraigDorman.jpgThe trails only cover a small portion of the refuge but include an array of habitats from the boreal forest to wetlands and farm roads. Winter snow and ice make much more of the refuge accessible through 40 miles of multi-use trails created by the skijoring and mushing communities. Use of the trails is free.
Nature walks and other activities are free and take place all year, and virtually all activities focus on families and a full range of age groups. 
Daily nature hikes will continue through the summer at 10 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, and then reduce to twice a week in September. Major events include the upcoming Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival August 28 – 30.

Find out more about the refuge programs and activities by perusing the website or calling (907) 452-5162, where you can also ask about tours of the dairy and current farming operations. You also can visit Friends of Creamer’s Field on Facebook.


Top photo by Herb Melchoir; bottom photo by Craig Dorman.

Courtesy of Friends of Creamer's Field.

7/14/2015 3:12 PM

Come summertime, Alaskans follow the salmon. They gear up and lean into their dip nets, haul out and toss in a line. When not looking to catch fish, they gather to celebrate summer’s nutritional bounty and bountiful light. During the Alaska Salmon Runs and Salmon Jam Music Festival in Cordova July 17 and 18, that means running, racing and kicking up heels, whether in sandals, sneakers, mud boots or bare feSalmonRuns.GroupRacing.jpget.

The Salmon Runs include a king salmon marathon and sockeye half-marathon, along with shorter, faster courses that children can do, like the Humpy 5K and One Mile Smolt Run/Walk.
“What I love about this event is that it is indeed a day when kids and families come out and run together,” said Kristin Carpenter, race coordinator for Alaska Salmon Runs.  “Often one parent will be running the marathon or half-marathon and the other parent will run the 5K with the kids.”SalmonJamChildBubbleDance.jpg
If the crowds come in like previous years, she expects about 40 kids to join the one-mile race this year and another 30 to 60 to run the 5K.  
The races take place Saturday morning, but the festival starts Friday afternoon with a guided wild plant walk at 5 p.m., followed by art activities, music and the Copper River salmon cook-off at 6 p.m.  The featured bands include Aloha Bluegrass, the Railsplitters, the Builders and the Butchers, plus a slew of opening acts.
The weekend is definitely kid friendly, said Cathy Long, the producer of the Salmon Jam and Copper River Wild Salmon Festival.  Kid activities include face painting, fish printing, casting practice and more, plus family dancing, running and playing outside. 
Photo credit: Chelsea Haisman
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-06</hide>June 2015 ‎(3)
6/29/2015 8:28 AM
Your kids come in from playing outside. They’re hot, sweaty and thirsty. What do you give them to quench their thirst? Fruit-flavored drinks? Sport drinks?
How about water?Water vs sports drinks resized.jpg
Water and a healthy snack is all your children need to recover from physical activity. Sports drinks, juice drinks and sweetened flavored water are loaded with sugar that your kids don’t need.
Many parents mistakenly believe that some drinks with high amounts of added sugar — especially fruit drinks, sports drinks and sweetened flavored water — are healthy options for children, according to a recent study from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. The center’s study is featured in an article by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
It’s no surprise some parents are confused by these sugary drinks. This confusion is related to the way these drinks are marketed, using labels that say the drinks are all natural, they contain vitamins, replenish electrolytes, and are necessary for hydration – even when they are high in unhealthy amounts of sugar. Sports drinks, on average, contain about 9 teaspoons of sugar per 20 ounce bottle.
“Although most parents know that soda is not good for children, many still believe that other sugary drinks are healthy options. The labeling and marketing for these products imply that they are nutritious, and these misperceptions may explain why so many parents buy them,” said Jennifer Harris, PhD, a study author and the Director of Marketing Initiatives at the Rudd Center. Harris was quoted in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation article.
The misunderstanding of the large amount of sugar in sports drinks, juice drinks and sweetened flavored water inspired the Play Every Day campaign to create a new TV Public Service Announcement that shows how to find added sugars on the ingredient list. If sugar or another sweetener is listed in the first three ingredients, the drink is loaded with sugar. Play Every Day is producing a new PSA and related posters that focus on the high amount of sugar in sports drinks to post in schools. The main message is “Just because kids play sports, doesn’t mean they need sports drinks.” Water is the best option for rehydrating when you get out and play.
The recent Rudd Center survey found that 96 percent of participating parents gave sugary drinks to their child during the previous month. Play Every Day surveyed hundreds of Alaska parents of young children during 2014 and learned that 65 percent of Alaska parents served their child sugary drinks during the past week. In both surveys, fruit drinks and sodas were the sugary drinks most often served. Other common sugary drinks provided by parents included sports drinks, sweetened iced tea and sweetened, flavored water.
For more information on selecting healthy drinks for your children, look at Play Every Day’s FAQ page. Click on this website to learn more about finding added sugar on an ingredient list.
6/19/2015 8:38 AM

When Anchorage residents nominate a park for an upgrade, they point to Campbell Creek and Balto Seppala  as having the kind of playgrounds they want for their children.  Most don’t know these parks as “inclusive” because of features like ramps and soft landing surfaces that make them more accessible toBaltoResized.jpg everyone.

 “They don’t even know it’s an inclusive park,” said Josh Durand, park superintendent for the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department. “They just prefer it.”
Inclusive playgrounds include equipment that is accessible to children of all abilities, either because the equipment is at ground level or it can be reached using ramps. Families like the soft landing surfaces that prevent injuries, sometimes feeling like foam and other times synthetic turf that is fire resistant and comfortable. Kids like to walk on the turf with bare feet, Durand said.
The Municipality of Anchorage has always followed the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when building parks and playgrounds. During the past five years, however, the parks department has put more effort into going above and beyond the ADA standards and building inclusive parks that make equipment accessible to all children as well as to parents who have physical disabilities and want to play with their children, said Durand. One father who uses a wheelchair thanked the parks department for building playgrounds in a way that allows him to help his children on the equipment, Durand said.
Inclusive parks often include more seating areas, places for picnics, and transitions to trails, creeks and other places to explore nearby. They offer more than equipment that promotes physical activity; they build in sensory instruments like the drums at Cuddy Family Midtown Park, too.
“People like to make music,” Durand said. “People like interesting textures and things to touch. It just kind of opens it up for everyone.”
Cuddy Family Midtown Park was the first park in Anchorage to be built from scratch as an inclusive playground. The Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department and the Anchorage Park Foundation have since remodeled two existing parks in Anchorage to make them inclusive — Campbell Creek and Balto Seppala — and plan to remodel three more playgrounds:  David Green Park on 36th Avenue, Dave Rose Park in the Russian Jack neighborhood, and the Suzan Nightingale McKay Park in the Government Hill area. Once those parks are completed, six of Anchorage’s 85 playgrounds will be inclusive to all children.
The Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department began building inclusive parks after families approached them about wanting to be able to use more of Anchorage’s playgrounds. Funding for the parks comes from federal, state and municipal governments; private sources; and nonprofit organizations like the Anchorage Park Foundation, Durand said.
“We are working on a strategic plan to figure out how we can kind of keep this momentum going,” Durand said. 
The photograph of Balto Seppala park was provided by the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department.
6/3/2015 9:17 AM

Summer in Alaska offers a ton of ways to Get Out and Play Every Day with your kids.

Of course, you don’t have to do anything fancy. There are plenty of no-cost activities to do together — go for a walk (or make it a hike), bike, throw a ball or Frisbee, play a little flag football on the lawn…whatever you do, just get your kids out 60 minutes every day.Play Every Day water play.June3.2015.jpg
To supplement your activities or give your family a goal, try some of Alaska’s organized activities as well.
Next week, the Alaska Center for Children and Adults will hold their annual Family Field Day at Denali Elementary in Fairbanks. The good times roll from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10. Events include an obstacle course, tug-of-war, water balloon toss, disability awareness activities and more. Get the details here.
Not in Fairbanks next week? Here are some other kid-friendly events planned around the state:
·        KidzRunning is an 8-week program in Anchorage that starts in June and costs $100. Contact James Dooley at Skinny Raven for more information.
·        Healthy Futures Kid’s Mile on June 18.
·        Mayor’s Youth Cup 2-miler is June 20th.
·        Big Wild Life 2K is Aug 15.
Other locations:
·        There will be a Kids Tri-Athlon as part of the Eagle River Tri on June 7.
·        The Wasilla Midnight Sun Fun Run will feature both a one-miler and 100-yard dash on June 13.
·        The Ward Lake Fun Run will feature a one-miler and a 5K on July 11 in Ketchikan
·        The Houston Kids’ Dash will feature both a half- and one-mile run for kids on Sept. 19
For more race and run information check out the Alaska Running Calendar, the Healthy Futures event calendar, your community’s website, and the activities calendar on our Play Every Day website. Our website also has more great ideas on how you can Get Out and Play Every Day with your kids.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-05</hide>May 2015 ‎(3)
5/27/2015 12:08 PM

Anchorage’s Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon embraces a new event this year -- the Healthy Futures Kid’s Mile.  While grown-ups and teens look on, pick up race bibs and check out the fitness expo, kids from grades K to 6 can run the mile or half mile fun run on Thursday, June 18, at the Alaska Airlines Center. Registration is free and must be completed by 6:30 p.m.  The race starts at 7 p.m.

 Youth Cup Kids Running Pic.jpg
“These multi-day events that extend beyond an adult-centric race are a great model for positively impacting a community,” said Harlow Robinson, executive director of Healthy Futures, key partner of the Kid’s Mile. “Often times, people don't self-identify as ‘athletic’ enough to run a race or they don't feel the event is fit for the whole family.  The Healthy Futures Kid's Mile and the expo are going to appeal to a larger audience and reinforce the message that being physically active is important to everyone.”
The 42nd annual Mayor’s Marathon event includes full- and half-marathons, relays, a four-miler, and several youth cup races on Saturday, June 20. The marathon course is certified by USA Track and Field and finishers can use their results to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Last year, the event drew nearly 4,200 registrants from all 50 states and 13 countries.
Thursday’s Kid’s Mile coincides with a multi-day fitness expo that includes an outdoor farmer’s market, exhibitors, performances, demonstrations, Mayor’s Marathon participant bib pick up, and more.

The University of Alaska Anchorage athletic department, the organizer of the Mayor’s Marathon event since 2000, approached Healthy Futures about doing a kid-centric event this year. Like all runners at the Mayor’s Marathon event, Kid’s Mile participants will get official race bibs, plus metals and other goodies at the finish line.


Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Anchorage athletic department.


5/19/2015 1:07 PM

Every kid suffers bumps and bruises growing up; it’s just part of being a kid. As parents, we try our best to protect our children from unintentional injuries as they get out and play. Still, hundreds of Alaska children end up hospitalized with injuries every year.

What are the leading causes of injuries that require a visit to the hospital?
No. 1 is falls. Fallbike helmets2 050715.jpging is the main reason children up to age 14 are hospitalized with injuries, according to information gleaned by the Department of Health and Social Services’ Injury Prevention Program from the Alaska Trauma Registry. The registry includes trauma-related information collected when people leave the hospital.
For children ages 5 to 9 years old, another leading cause is an injury from falling on a playground.
“Over the past 10 years, there has been a real push to improve playground safety,” said Dr. Jo Fisher, the injury prevention program manager. “Playground designers are looking at improved construction, safer materials and increased padding,” she said. “But it’s important that parents be there when their children are on the playground — plus, it’s a great opportunity for the parents to be active as well.”
Next on the list for children ages 5 to 9 is injuries from bike riding.
“Most bicycle injury reports include the phrase ‘lost control and fell’,” Dr. Fisher said. She stressed that parents need to be sure that their children are wearing approved bicycle helmets and that they need to be aware that helmet-wearing is required by law for children under age 16 in Anchorage and Kenai, and for children under age 18 in Bethel, Juneau and Sitka. Parents should also make sure that the bike their child rides is the right size and is in good mechanical condition. Check with your local fire department to learn about bike safety classes, bike rodeos and the availability of helmets in your area.
To prevent injuries, pay attention to your feet.
“Play activity should include proper footwear,” Dr. Fisher said. “Flip-flops cause falls and provide very little protection for your feet.”
For older children from 10 to 14, riding All-Terrain-Vehicles is a leading cause of injuries. Three to four children often ride an ATV at the same time, driving it to school in our rural communities, Dr. Fisher said. More children are inclined to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle than when riding an ATV, she said. The faster something goes, the more severe the injuries can be. Helmets are critical when it comes to riding on ATVs, she said.
Don’t forget about life jackets (a.k.a. personal flotation devices or PFDs) when recreating on or near the water. The state’s Kids Don’t Float program provides free loaner life jackets at many locations around the state.
Let’s all do our part to keep our kids safe and healthy while they get out and play, 60 minutes a day.
For more information, see the latest list of the 10 leading causes of non-fatal hospitalized injuries for all Alaskans. 
5/5/2015 11:14 AM

What does it look like in spring when dozens of Alaska kids decide to get out and play?

It looks like biking, hiking and running in the woods. Native dancing and doing the high-kick.

It looks like jumping in puddles during the same week another child sit-skis down the mountain. And it looks like tumbling, sliding at the playground, and kicking around the soccer ball.
Last month we filmed AlPED sit-ski2.jpgaska kids doing all different types of physical activity to show that the possibilities for play are endless. The new 30-second TV public service announcement is packed with a fun and simple message: No matter what you like to do, just get out and play – 60 minutes – every day.
The Play Every Day campaign is run through the Alaska Division of Public Health’s Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotions. This spring, the campaign partnered with the division’s Section of Women's, Children's, and Family Health to film this new public service announcement focused on the importance of daily physical activity for children of all abilities. The TV spot is now posted online on Play Every Day’s YouTube Channel and features children with and without special health care needs.
“All children, regardless of their ability or disability, benefit from physical activity,” said Amanda Cooper, the Health and Disability Program Manager with the Section of Women’s, Children’s and Family Health. “The Play Every Day campaign is the perfect avenue to encourage children of all abilities to get out and play.”
The Alaska days just keep getting longer and longer, making it easier to find a sunny stretch of 60 minutes. So there’s only one question: How will you choose to use that 60 minutes to get out and play?
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-04</hide>April 2015 ‎(4)
4/29/2015 3:50 PM

BikeToSchoolDayGoose Lake Biking 9397 web.jpgBike to School Day melds safety with everything kids love about cycling — the independence, the exhilaration, and the fresh air. This year’s National Bike to School Day on May 6 will involve over 50 Alaska schools and thousands of students.

Last year, Anchorage registered more schools than any other participating community nationwide. Schools can still register now, though it’s not required for participation.
“The event promotes life-long fitness and healthy habits,” noted Kim Resheske, a P.E. teacher at Kincaid Elementary and a Bike to School Coordinator for the Anchorage School District. “It also teaches students that it is important to ride safely.”
Bike to School rules are simple.  Students must wear a helmet and they should wear bright clothing and follow the guidelines of the Safe Routes to School Program:
    • Wear a helmet.
    • Be visible.
    • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
    • Signal intentions.
    • Be alert to changing traffic conditions.
    • Obey all traffic signs and signals.
Ocean View Elementary students will get an extra bonus this year when Olympic cross country skiers and siblings Sadie Bjornsen and Erik Bjornsen, along with Paralympic athlete Andrew Kurka, join them for the ride.
But whoever you ride with and wherever you live, Bike to School Day champions pedal power as a way to get out and play, every day.
4/21/2015 4:16 PM

HeartRun2015RunningShotFBsize.jpgThe American Heart Association’s Alaska Heart Run will travel along a new course this year, but its mission remains the same: To help prevent heart disease and stroke while encouraging families and friends to stick together. This year’s event on Saturday, April 25, will start and finish at the UAA Alaska Airlines Center parking lot in Anchorage. The timed race starts at 9:30 a.m., and the untimed run and walk gets underway at 10 a.m.

Whether you race, walk, skip or jog, the 5K course provides an opportunity to support health, have some fun and maybe achieve a personal best race time for the 3-plus miles.
Online registration for the timed 5K run ended April 17, but you can still register for the untimed event online through April 23 and at bib pick-up days or the day of the race. Register or pick up bibs at the King Career Center, 2650 E. Northern Lights Blvd., from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, April 22 and 24. Registration fees for the HeartRun2015MedallianFBsize.jpgtimed event (including late fees applied after April 18) are $35 for adults and $20 for children ages 4 to 18. Fees for the untimed event are $30 for adults and $15 for kids. Kids under age 4 run for free. All children ages 6 and under receive a commemorative medal for completing the run.

Money raised at the Heart Run will benefit the American Heart Association and will fund research and community programs that help prevent heart disease and stroke in both adults and children.
To that end, staff from the Alaska Children’s Heart Center will be at the Heart Run again this year teaching CPR. Every spring, the center sponsors and supports the Heart Run, said Dr. Kitty Wellmann, a specialist with the center. They host a booth and teach CPR to anyone who wants to learn, she said.
And kids, remember to log your run on your Healthy Futures Challenge log. The spring challenge ends April 25 at midnight.
(photos copyright 2015 Lisa J. Seifert, used with permission)
4/14/2015 11:13 AM

It’s just after 9 a.m., you’ve missed breakfast, you’re hungry, and lunch is still hours away. What do you do?

If you go to Petersburg High School, you’re in luck. Second Chance Breakfast foods.jpg
It’s called the Second Chance Breakfast, and Petersburg High School offers it between 9:20 and 9:30 a.m. every day of the school year. Ginger Evens from the Petersburg City School District said the breakfast is one way to help students be more alert in the morning and successful in class.
Petersburg High School has about 140 students who start school at 8:30 every day. About 20 students show up at 7:30 for an early-morning band class and some high school students rush to get to school, run late and show up on an empty stomach, Evens said.
“When we serve Second Chance Breakfast at 9:20, then they’re ready to eat something,” she said.
The school does not have pre-school breakfast service but it has offered Second Chance Breakfast since January 2014. Last school year, an average of 28 students and staff ate the extra breakfast every day; this school year, the extra breakfast was moved to an earlier time each morning and about 18 people eat each day. Evens said the district is watching the numbers to see if any changes are needed to improve the program. Second Chance Breakfast Cart.jpg
Petersburg’s extra breakfast is a collaboration between the district’s food service program and several classes at the high school. A student from the metal shop class built the cart that serves the breakfast, and students from special education classes prepare the cart each morning and hand out several options for purchase, including fruit, whole-grain snacks, milk, yogurt and granola — foods that meet the federal nutrition guidelines.
The Second Chance Breakfast costs $2 for students and $3 for staff, but it is free or less expensive for those who qualify for free and reduced-cost meals served at school, Evens said. The students running the breakfast cart collect the money and then put the proceeds back into the school’s food service program, said Evens, the district’s Healthy Living Grant Coordinator.
Petersburg is one of eight school districts across Alaska that received a grant from the state’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program to improve physical activity and nutrition options for students. The grant funding helped the school purchase a refrigerator to store the breakfast food, as well as materials to serve it, Evens said.
Petersburg High School plans to continue offering the Second Chance Breakfast. Evens said the extra morning meal is critical to some students who lack food at home.
“The food that they are getting at school is really the only food that they are getting,” she said. “It’s really important that we provide nutritious foods for them.”
4/7/2015 9:50 AM

​​Tough Slusher photo 040715 edit.jpgDuring the first-ever Tough Slusher race last April, there wasn’t any slush at all. Kids and families completed the short fun run in Anchorage on snow-covered trails, shuffling through some slick patches of ice.

Not this April.
Winter came and went early this year and this year’s Tough Slusher, scheduled for this Saturday, April 11, at 10 a.m., may live up to its name. Participants are encouraged to have their rubber boots ready, said Harlow Robinson, Healthy Futures executive director. Healthy Futures, Play Every Day’s partner in physical activity, has organized the 2K and 5K run/walk on the Service High School trails. The race is one of the official events recognizing the Anchorage Centennial. Banners will hang on the race course to celebrate every decade of Anchorage’s recreation history.
The race is not competitive and is open to people of all ages. There is no registration fee, but donations will go to Healthy Futures, the signature program of the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Healthy Futures has the mission of encouraging Alaska children to build the daily habit of physical activity for good health, and it supports that mission by organizing low-cost family-friendly events and school-based physical activity challenges each year. (Kids, you can count the Tough Slusher as an activity on your Healthy Futures Challenge log for April!)
There is no registration fee, but the event is a fundraiser and donations will go to Healthy HF tshirt and hoodie small.pngFutures, the signature program of the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.Tough Slusher participants who contribute a minimum donation of $20 will receive a Healthy Futures T-shirt; those who contribute more than $40 can receive a Healthy Futures hoodie.
You can register online using this form. If you have any questions about the race or the registration process, contact Bib pickup and late registration will take place at the northeast corner of the Service High School parking lot from 9 – 9:45 a.m.
See you at the Healthy Futures Tough Slusher this Saturday.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-03</hide>March 2015 ‎(4)
3/31/2015 10:04 AM

Spring Healthy Futures Challenge 140603 Goose Lake Water 9018 web.jpgThe finish line is approaching, and thousands of Alaska kids are on their way to completing the challenge.

This week starts the last month of the Spring Healthy Futures Challenge. This spring, more than 11,000 students from about 175 elementary schools across Alaska are participating in the free, school-based challenge that helps kids get physically active. Students in schools from Kaktovik to Ketchikan and St. Paul to Eagle are tracking their activity each week, getting closer to the 60 minutes of daily activity recommended for the best health.
Winter seems to be on its way out already in many parts of Alaska, which opens up lots of new ways to get out and play. We know kids are strapping on their helmets and heading out for their first bike rides of the spring. They’re pulling on their rain boots and splashing through the nearest puddle. Families are signing up for the Healthy Futures Tough Slusher – the Anchorage race on April 11 that celebrates having fun during breakup (But more on that next week!)
Alaska children are tracking this activity on their Healthy Futures Challenge logs. To participate in the Challenge, students at elementary schools need to log their activity for the month on a simple form that they get at school. At the end of the month, they turn the log in to a teacher or a school volunteer for a cool prize. Physical activity logs will be due the last week of April. The prize for the April Challenge is a hackey sack. Children who have completed all three months of the Challenge this spring — February, March and April — will be entered in a grand prize drawing for a sports package of their choice.
Not sure if your child’s school is participating? Ask your child’s teacher or visit the Healthy Futures website. Schools will be signing up soon for the Fall 2015 Physical Activity Challenge, so encourage your school’s principals and teachers to participate.
3/25/2015 9:06 AM

kicks4kids.jpgIn Alaska, where the ground is often buried in snow or slick with ice, some kids come to school wearing shoes that are duct-taped together.

Two boys want to play for the school basketball team. The trick is they both can’t play at the same time, because they need to share the same pair of shoes.
A coach knows that if he doesn’t buy shoes for his athletes, he won’t have enough kids to make up a team.
Colleen Franks had heard all these stories from Alaska schools and knew something had to be done to put shoes — shoes that fit right and protect the feet — on all children going to school. That’s how Franks, a business owner in Anchorage, started working with schools districts, businesses and partners throughout Alaska to create the nonprofit shoe recycling program called Kicks for Kids.
“It’s been three years, and we’ve given out close to 3,000 pairs of shoes now from preschool through 12th (grade),” Franks said.
“There are schools where we are trying to get shoes and boots on every kid,” Franks said. “The need is ridiculously high.”
Franks and her family run Aurora Kids Gymnastics for young children in Anchorage. Her goal is to provide opportunities for sports, and overall fitness, to Alaska kids.
“When I started to realize that so many kids were having difficulty participating because they didn’t have the proper shoes, it really bothered me,” she said.
Franks received support from the Anchorage School District. This school year, Aquarian Charter School in Anchorage donated one pair of shoes for each student enrolled at the school, Franks said. Franks also partners with an Alaska nonprofit organization called “The Basics,” which helps raise funds to support Kicks for Kids.
Each Anchorage school and some schools in other Alaska school districts now have buckets to collect shoes that can be shared with children in need. Parents and others can donate shoes, rain boots and winter boots that their children have outgrown. If teachers notice a child in need, they can pull a pair of shoes from their school’s bucket and put them on the child right there. When buckets overflow with shoes, Franks collects them, brings them home, washes them and creates an inventory for other schools that need more shoes than they have in their buckets.
Franks said the Kicks for Kids team of volunteers brought 250 pairs to 18 different schools during a recent week. The program also sent dozens of shoes to Kenai schools. Kicks for Kids is sharing shoes with children in other communities, too, including Eagle River, Dillingham, Fairbanks, even Anaktuvuk Pass.
“The goal is we go statewide,” Franks said.
Kicks for Kids also partners with businesses, like Skinny Raven Sports in Anchorage.
“We’re all about trying to promote healthy lifestyles,” said John Clark, who handles the store’s purchasing. Skinny Raven asks Kicks for Kids to stop by frequently to pick up shoes for children in need.
The store donates used shoes from its customers, last year’s models of sneakers, returned shoes, even demo shoes that are often used just a few times and are still in great shape.
Franks said she often hears how grateful the children are for the new shoes.
“These are the best shoes the kids have ever had,” she said.
Kicks for Kids shoes go to kids who need them to participate in school track and sports teams, but they also go to kids who just need something to protect their growing feet. To help Kicks for Kids, parents can add their children’s outgrown shoes to buckets in schools in Anchorage and other communities. Franks said the program takes all shoes and boots, no matter how beaten up they are from use – “Nothing goes to waste.” People also can donate to The Basics to support programs like Kicks for Kids. To learn more, visit Kicks for Kids on Facebook.
* Photo courtesy of the Kicks for Kids program.
3/17/2015 11:51 AM

So, you read our blog about the importance of reading the ingredient lists on the foods and drinks you consume. Now you’ve decided to start keeping track of your sugar intake by keeping an eye on those nutrition labels.Nutrition_label.JPG

But, wait.
That bowl of granola you had for breakfast — the one made with all natural ingredients, the one with nuts and flax seeds—can contain 14 grams of sugar.
That drink you had for lunch — the one loaded with protein and made with all organic ingredients — that protein drink can contain 12 grams of sugar.
A 12-ounce can of regular cola contains 39 grams of sugar.
The problem is “grams” doesn’t really mean that much to us. How much is 12 grams of sugar?
Here’s a simple mathematical formula that can help you manage the amount of “hidden” sugar you consume every day. It converts grams to teaspoons — the unit of measure we’re more familiar with in the kitchen.
By dividing the total grams of sugar by four, you get the number of teaspoons. So, for example, four grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar — about the same amount found in most sugar packets. tsp_sugar_small.jpg
Even if you don’t sprinkle any additional sugar on your bowl of granola, it can already contain three and a half teaspoons of sugar (14 grams). You’d never add three and a half teaspoons of sugar to a bowl of cereal, but it’s in there already. Your lunchtime protein drink contains three teaspoons of added sugar (12 grams), and a can of cola contains just almost 10 teaspoons of added sugar (39 grams).
Get your kids involved in doing the math on their foods and drinks. They can learn how to find those hidden sugars and add them up.
3/3/2015 4:21 PM

Buying healthy drinks for your family can be very confusing. That’s because the words you may find on the front of a bottle don’t always tell you what’s in the drink. They don’t tell you about the large amount of sugar that can be hiding inside.

Pick up a bottle of a sugary drink and the front label may use words that make the drink sound healthy: Father Shopping Ad 140605 Sagaya's City Market-0195 web250x.jpg
“Loaded with vitamins.”
“All natural flavors.”
The key is to check the back of the bottle. That’s typically where you’ll find the drink’s nutritional label and ingredient list.
This is the main message in Play Every Day’s new public service announcement running on TV stations in communities across Alaska. The PSA features a dad shopping in a grocery store with his children. When the kids pull a powdered drink and a vitamin-enhanced drink from the store shelf, the dad turns the bottles around and shows them the ingredient list. If sweeteners are listed as one of the first three ingredients, the drink is loaded with sugar.
When you’re looking for sugar on the ingredient list, watch out for other words. Sweeteners go by many names, including common ones like honey and syrup, as well as high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, dextrose and fruit nectar.
Next time you shop with your children, look for sodas, powdered drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks on the shelves. Turn the bottles around and show your kids the ingredient lists. Help them find the added sugars and ask them if these sugars are listed among the first three ingredients.
Your kids will become smart shoppers and smart consumers. By choosing to buy and drink water and low-fat or fat-free milk, you are teaching your children about the importance of healthy drinks.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-02</hide>February 2015 ‎(2)
2/25/2015 9:57 AM

When you send kids outside to play at recess, they know what to do, right?

They know to be active, have a good time, include everyone else in the game?

Baranof Elementary School, a Sitka school that teaches about 250 preschool through first-grade students, started a structured recess program in the fall of 2013 because staff realized that not all children knew what to do on the playground, or how to start up games with other kids. Ramon Quevedo, student success coordinator with the Sitka School District, said most of the referrals to the principal’s office came from conflicts on the playground. Conflicts that started on the playground would come into the classroom, making it difficult for the children to learn, he said. RecessPhotoPED.jpg

To help children play and reduce behavior problems, Sitka used federal grant funding to hire a nonprofit organization called Playworks to visit the Sitka school and help staff and students start organized play. By the end of the 2013-14 school year, Baranof saw a 50 percent reduction in playground-related behavior referrals, Quevedo said.

Playworks’ mission is that every child can play, every day. “On our playgrounds, everyone plays, everyone belongs and everyone contributes to the game,” said the Playworks website. Staff from Playworks visit schools like Baranof Elementary to train school staff on how to run an organized recess program and teach safe games that any child is able to play.

Quevedo said the Playworks rules on the playground are simple: “Be respectful. Be safe. Have fun.”

Kids are encouraged to make new friends while they are learning new games, he said. Playworks uses simple tools like rock-paper-scissors to help children settle conflicts. Playworks encourages adults on the playground to get out and play with the kids, not just stand and watch.

When recess is over, a staff member blows a whistle and everyone stands still, Quevedo said.

“It’s just an easy way for them to transition and get ready to come back to the classroom,” he said. At Baranof, they call its “Freeze, Knees” — when all the kids stop moving and grab their knees. Then they high-five the kids who have been playing with them.

“It’s something really simple,” Quevedo said. “It’s really contagious. They just love to give high-fives.”

The Sitka School District is one of eight districts across Alaska that received a grant from the state’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program to improve nutrition and physical activity options for students. Playworks has been so successful at improving physical activity at Baranof Elementary that the Sitka School District completed another Playworks training session for Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary, the school that teaches grades 2 through 5 in Sitka, Quevedo said.

2/11/2015 9:11 AM

Looking for fun ways to get your kids active this month? Clear your calendar on Saturday, February 28, because there are two family events in the Anchorage area.

Ski4Kids 2014 045 cropped resized.jpgSign up your children for the annual Ski 4 Kids event at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. Children through age 14 can participate in a 3K timed or untimed ski race, and parents are welcome to ski along, too. Every child finishes with a medal. Children can also try snowshoeing, orienteering, obstacle courses and more. Indoor events at the chalet and outdoor events in the park start at 12:30 p.m. The ski race begins at 1:30 p.m.Ski4Kids 2014 042 resized single skier.jpg

Families can register for Ski 4 Kids online, or register the day of the event. There is no set participant fee, but donations are recommended. Proceeds benefit the Anchorage Parks and Recreation’s ski outreach program and a Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage grant program that provides ski equipment to schools and youth organizations.

Got a costume and no place to wear it? Put it on and join the Frostbite Footrace and Costume Fun Run February 28 in downtown Anchorage. The Fur Rondy event is designed for “hardy” Alaskans prepared for any weather. People of all ages and abilities can sign up for 5K or 2K fun runs that start at 9:30 a.m. The race course begins near the Fifth Avenue Skywalk and ends at Sixth Avenue and H Street. Register for the footrace online before February 25; the registration fee for children is at a lower rate. Participants also can register the morning of the race.

Which event will you choose? The good news is you can do both. With the Frostbite Footrace in the morning and the Ski 4 Kids in the afternoon, you can get out and play all day.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2015-01</hide>January 2015 ‎(3)
1/27/2015 1:02 PM

Guest blog by Shelley Romer, the elementary school program coordinator for Healthy Futures.

It’s been an exciting first half of the 2014/15 school year for
Healthy Futures.

Our program had a record number of students from 173 Alaska schools participate in the Fall 2014 Healthy Futures Challenge — nearly 18,500 kids, in fact. The Spring Healthy Futures Challenge starts this Sunday, Feb. 1. We already have 188 schools signed up with an open invitation for more.

As the new ElemShellyRomerJanBlog.jpegentary School Program Coordinator for Healthy Futures, I have been pleased to see how hard-working and enthusiastic everyone has been in raising the bar to develop the habit of daily physical activity. So many people have contributed to getting Alaska children physically active by keeping track of activity logs, entering data into the Healthy Futures database, and distributing prizes. It’s a lot of work, but we have teachers, community members, and parents who go above and beyond what it takes to help get kids excited about being active and healthy.

It helps to have amazing Alaska athletes cheering kids on. We kicked off this school year by supporting the Anchorage School District’s elementary school Jamborees. Our Healthy Heroes — Olympians Kikkan Randall and Holly Brooks, the APU Nordic Ski Team, the UAA Cross Country Running Team, and many other local athletes — made the events even more special by providing some truly inspiring and motivating energy. It was amazing to stand in front of a group of kids who had just warmed up with our Healthy Heroes and were ready to get the race started. Then… they were off!! 

Determination and gumption flew by as kids ran toward the finish line. Regardless of whether they finished first or last, thousands of kids were giving it everything they had while being cheered on by the crowd and our local athletes. 

Here at Healthy Futures, we definitely practice what we teach. I enjoy rock climbing, hiking, running, skiing of all kinds, playing outside with my nieces and nephews, and just getting outside to walk and clear my head or catch up with friends and family. My coworkers are amazing mountain runners, triathletes, skiers, and people who just like to get out and move. We know the importance of integrating activity into our daily lives, but we also know how fun it is, the benefits of challenging ourselves, how much better we feel when we move, and how great it is to be a part of a community.

We know that research shows a link between the lack of activity and health-related problems like obesity and diabetes. With so many things pointing to more sedentary lifestyles, it can seem a little daunting to address these issues, but kids are meant to move and they love to move. It is up to us to provide and support an environment that promotes what they do naturally.

Please join us and support your children and your students as they participate in the Spring Healthy Futures Challenge and get out and play, every day.

1/20/2015 2:19 PM

More than 300 miles up the Glenn Highway from Anchorage, a school district greenhouse promises a bounty of healthy produce for hundreds of Alaska school children.

The Alaska Gateway School District built the 33- by 96-foot greenhouse in Tok to grow and supply produce to all seven schools in the district. The district serves 370 students in Tok, Dot Lake, Eagle, Tetlin, Tanacross, Mentasta Lake and Northway. AK Gateway greenhouse.jpeg

The greenhouse project – funded through several sources, including district funds, a legislative appropriation and a federal U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm-to-School grant – reduces the amount of food the schools need to import and transport.

“Having it locally has made a big difference in how fresh the food is,” said Bonnie Emery, Alaska Gateway’s horticulturist.

Emery said the first planting went in the greenhouse in the spring of 2014, the year after its construction. The interior space allows her to grow fruits and vegetables in Interior Alaska almost all year. This year, she grew strawberries, melons, spinach, kale, different types of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, beans, snap peas and more.

“I still have things growing in the greenhouse,” said Emery in December when she was still growing spinach, tomatoes, turnip greens and celery.

The Biomass Heating Plant in Tok uses trees removed to prevent wildfires to heat and power Tok School, including the greenhouse, which also runs additional heaters and grow lights to continue gardening through the winter.  “At this point, it’s sort of an experiment to see how far we can go,” said Emery.

In January, greenGreenhouse3 resized.jpghouse staff reported that temperatures in Tok dipped to minus 40 degrees, and yet the greens, spinach and celery inside the greenhouse stayed alive.

Needless to say, the Alaska Gateway greenhouse also provides an ongoing learning opportunity. Students at Tok School start seeds in the classroom and transplant them to the greenhouse, and all district students can tour the greenhouse to learn how fruits and vegetables are planted, harvested and then served at schools, said Scott MacManus, assistant superintendent for the district. “All the kids from the whole district will do field trips to the school and go to the greenhouse and see how it works,” he noted.

MacManus said the district would like to work with the state’s university system to start an arctic agriculture program that focuses on what grows best in northern communities like Tok. Alaska Gateway is one of eight school districts across Alaska that received a grant from the state’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program to improve nutrition and physical activity options for students.

For more information about Alaska Gateway’s greenhouse, visit


Photos courtesy of Alaska Gateway School District

1/13/2015 3:04 PM

If it comes from fruit, it must be healthy, right? When eating fresh, raw fruit, then yes, absolutely.

But not when drinking 100 percent fruit juice, which lacks much of the fiber and nutrients that makes fruit healthy for us in the first place: 

Fruit juice “is just aGlassesJuice.jpgs full of calories as the whole food but filters out lots of the fiber and micro-nutrients and delivers all the sugar and calories in liquid form that does not make you feel full,” said Dr. Susan Beesley, a pediatrician with the Anchorage Pediatric Group. “Also, juice is horrible for teeth. Because of its sugar content, it causes lots of cavities, especially if it is used as a drink that is available to children constantly throughout the day or night.”

Too much 100 percent fruit juice, along with other sugary drinks, contributes to obesity and tooth decay in Alaska — where one out of three Alaska children is overweight or obese and cavity rates are high.

People “think that since fruit is healthy, fruit juice must also be healthy,” said Beesley. Plus, “kids tend to like juice (because it is so sugary), so parents think they are giving something healthy to their kids that they also like.”

Some juices contain nearly as much sugar as soda, with as much as 16 teaspoons in a 20-ounce portion, or nearly twice the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommended maximum of eight teaspoons of added sugar a day for the average adult. Plus, Beesley added, kids who get in a routine of consuming sugary juices can carry that habit over their lifetimes by drinking other sugary drinks, like soda, sports drinks or energy drinks.

Studies show that consuming added sugars can lead to unhealthy weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. That’s why pediatricians recommend water as the default drink for kids, with fat-free and low-fat milk as nutritional alternatives. GRC42546-Beesley Susan.jpg

 “I do not think kids should drink any juice,” said Beesley, “but if they must, it should be given in a small volume with a meal.” The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4 to 6 ounces (1/2 to ¾ cup) of 100% fruit juice per day for young children. Beesley also discourages serving sugar-free juices or alternatives “because I think they will get kids used to drinking sweet beverages.”

(Photo courtesy Dr. Susan Beesley)

Otherways to limit juice consumption include making it available only on special occasions, like when traveling by plane or when going out to dinner. Diluting juice with water helps reduce sugar intake, but it still means saturating teeth in sugar, said Beesley.

By not buying and serving juice at home and limiting consumption elsewhere, parents help kids establish good habits for drinking water and maintaining a healthy weight. Healthy kids should drink two cups of fat-free or low fat milk each day and lots of water, nothing more.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-12</hide>December 2014 ‎(4)
12/30/2014 1:22 PM

Science tells us that too much added sugar can lead to unhealthy weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and other unhealthy outcomes, even in young children. Eating and drinking added sugar contributes to obesity and comes at a significant price: Alaska spends about $459 million a year on obesity-related medical expenses, and the cost to our children’s health impacts their quality of life.

What can we do to help our children build a healthy foundation?

Well, our kids learn their habits from us. They do what we do. The best way to get them to play outside is to go outside with them. The best way to get them to eat right is to eat healthy meals beside them. And since Americans consume nearly half their added sugar from sugary drinks, the easiest and most effective way to cut down on added sugar is to stop drinking them.

“If you or your child drinks just one can of soda a day, you or he will drink more than 3,500 teaspoons of added sugar by the end of the year,” noted Diane Peck, a public health nutritionist with the Obesity Prevention and Control Program in the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. “That’s more than 30 pounds of sugar.”

In the health department’s new public service announcement called It Starts With Me, a mother reflects on how her habits influence her daughter’s: “At first I didn’t think how my soda habit could affect her health, but when I noticed the extra pounds I put on due to my daily habit, and that I’m putting myself at risk for diabetes and heart disease, I began to wonder… what are sugary drinks doing to her?”

Beverages like soda, sports and energy drinks, vitamin-enhanced drinks, fruit-flavored or powdered drinks, and sweetened teas, coffees and milks add sugars and calories with little or no nutrients. Some of these drinks can contain as much as 16 teaspoons of sugar in just 20 ounces, twice the maximum amount of added sugar (8 teaspoons) recommended for the average adult by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Want your kids to stay healthy? Start by reducing or eliminating the sugary drinks you buy, serve and consume. After all, good health habits start with you.

12/22/2014 3:01 PM

Holiday potlucks and break room goodies can add to our waistlines, but wrapping ourselves in festive coats and ugly sweaters only skirts the truth – that during the holidays, we often exceed our fuel needs with a heavy dose of added sugar. 

Consider a holiday favorite, the 16-ounce whole-milk eggnog latte, which weighs in at 460 calories, 22 grams of fat and 6 teaspoons of added sugar.

“That is very similar to a milkshake at most fast food restaurants,” said Diane Peck, a public health nutritionist with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. “In comparison, a non-ALatte.12.23.14.jpgfat latte only has 130 calories, no fat and no added sugar.” 

Plus, the sugar in liquids hits the blood stream faster and leads to cravings for more, said Rikki Keen, an adjunct professor for the Department of Health, Physical Education & Recreation at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“I think people don’t realize that you’re not going to feel full when you drink things,” she said. “Liquids just don’t do that. Those drinks have no fiber, so you’re setting yourself up for another sugar fix soon after.”

Keen, who also works as the team dietician for the UAA Seawolves and an exercise physiologist for other organizations, noted a growing body of science surrounding the impact of sugar on the body. “It should be a real turnaround for folks,” Keen explained. “People will begin to realize that sugar’s not good for the heart, that it contributes to low grade inflammation that leads to a laundry list of disease states that we’re just now finding out.”

So how do you keep the balance in a season of sugar plums and hot cocoa? For starters, said Peck, continue to stay active. (Adults should shoot for at least 2.5 hours of physical activity a week and kids should get physically active 60 minutes a day, every day.) Also, keep eating low calorie foods and drinks like water and fruits and vegetables.

Before going to parties or events, said Keen, eat something nutritious to avoid feeling hungry when walking by the sweet tables.

Most important, commit yourself to tracking what you eat. Grab a notebook, create a document, or upload a free app to log what you consume. Apps work well because they break down the nutritional content of everything you eat and tally the totals.

When you really know what you eat and drink, “it becomes the reality the next day and forces you to be much more aware and accountable,” said Keen.

Do athletes, dieticians and nutritionists partake in holiday sweets now and again? Absolutely, but they do so with intention.

“My go-to treat is my own coffee and I add a bit of regular sugar, milk and whey protein,” said Keen. Other options include going with low or no fat milk and asking for just one shot of syrup.

Peck indulges in holiday treats occasionally, too, but she balances it out with lower calorie drinks “like hot spice tea, no sugar, sparkling water with a splash of fruit juice, or a small ‘skinny tan hot cocoa, no whip.’”

As for the best drink for health and hydration, whatever the season, they agree: Water.

12/8/2014 12:50 PM

Do you feel inspired by people who set a goal and stick with it until they reach it?

If so, let us introduce you to our partner in physical activity — Healthy Futures. This program has gone from a homegrown effort to get families active to a statewide effort that runs a school-based physical activity challenge motivating thousands of elementary children tHealthy_Futures_Logo_Dec.11.2013.jpgo get active every day.

To support Healthy Futures, Play Every Day urges schools to sign up for the Healthy Futures Challenge and help us reach a significant benchmark:  We have set a goal of getting 200 public elementary schools in Alaska — that’s half — signed up for the spring physical activity challenge in 2015. Schools can sign up for the Challenge now through Dec. 19 at

Reaching this goal will be a remarkable achievement. About 10 years ago, Healthy Futures started with just two Anchorage parents — the late Bonny Sosa Young and Sam Young — who were concerned about the growing obesity problem in Alaska. (One out of 3 Alaska children is overweight or obese.) The couple wanted to improve the health of Alaska children by empowering them to build the habit of daily physical activity. ActiveKidsHealthyFutures10.9.14.jpg

They worked at home and then a small staff joined the program to support low-cost and no-cost physical activity events for families. The program also developed a simple, free physical activity challenge for Alaska elementary schools and students.

Play Every Day got involved three years ago as a partner by supporting the Healthy Futures Challenge with annual funding and promotional resources. The Play Every Day campaign is part of the state’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program.

Since this partnership, school and student involvement has grown. In the spring of 2011, 36 Alaska elementary schools and 1,342 children participated in the Healthy Futures Challenge; by fall 2014, over 170 schools and 18,000 kids participated — that’s 1 in 4 public elementary students in Alaska.

Healthy Futures now has other financial supporters, too, like Providence Health & Services Alaska, the United Way of Anchorage, ConocoPhillips, and the Alaska Kidney Foundation.

Schools all over Alaska can sign up now for the Spring Healthy Futures Challenge, which will run in February, March and April, 2015. The free, fun challenge rewards students with incentives for being active while giving schools with high student participation small cash grants toward physical activity equipment.

We’re so close to our goal of 200 schools — 173 Alaska schools participated in the Fall 2014 Challenge — and we encourage you to support your kids and schools by asking your schools to sign up for the Healthy Futures Challenge. Parents can also volunteer to help children fill out their physical activity logs and help the school fill in the participation database and turn it in to Healthy Futures each month. They can help hand out prizes to the students when they’ve met their physical activity goals.

It’s no longer just two parents working to help Alaska children be healthier. It’s all of us.

12/2/2014 1:43 PM

Many drinks contain added sugars, but knowing how much and in what form can prove tricky when looking at labels. Whether organic or pure, syrup or concentrate, solid or raw, sweeteners of all kinds add sugar to our diets and behave the same way in our bodies.

The liquid sweeteners in sugary drinks lack fiber and move into the bloodstream quickly, and this sugar overload can impact the body’s organs and lead to serious diseases overNutrition Word Cloud No Red 250x250.jpg time.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a maximum of eight teaspoons of added sugar a day for the average adult on a diet of 2,000 calories, but a single 20-ounce bottle of soda contains twice that much. American children and adults consume more than two times the recommended maximum amount of added sugars each day, and nearly half that sugar comes from sodas, sports drink, energy drinks, powdered drinks and fruit-flavored drinks.


How can you avoid these added sugars?


First, read the ingredient list. If a sweetener is listed as one of the first three ingredients, the drink is loaded with sugar.


Second, know how to find sugar by any other name, including these:


·        Agave Nectar

·        Barley malt

·        Cane sugar

·        Corn syrup

·        Corn syrup solids

·        Crystalline fructose

·        Dextrose

·        Evaporated cane juice

·        Fructose

·        Fruit juice concentrate

·        Fruit nectar

·        Galactose

·        Glucose

·        High-fructose corn syrup

·        Glucose-fructose syrup

·        Honey

·        Maltose

·        Malt syrup

·        Maple syrup

·        Molasses

·        Brown rice syrup

·        Sucrose


Finally, convert the grams of sugar listed on the nutrition facts label into teaspoons. Simply divide the total number of grams of sugar by four to get the number of teaspoons per serving. If a sugary drink label says it has 64 grams per serving, that’s 16 teaspoons of sugar – twice the recommended daily intake of sugar for the average adult.  


Keep in mind that many store bought drinks contain more than one serving. If the bottle contains two servings, multiply the number of grams of sugar per serving by two and then divide the total by four. A sugary drink with 32 grams of sugar per serving and two servings per container contains 64 grams or 16 teaspoons of sugar in the entire bottle.


Why not choose healthy drinks instead?

collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-11</hide>November 2014 ‎(3)
11/25/2014 3:10 PM

Sugary drinks come in bright packages with labels that claim all sorts of things — “loaded with vitamins,” “hydrating,” “all natural flavors.”


What they really contain is added sugar and lots of it —16 teaspoons in a 20-ounce soda or fruit-flavored drink. Studies show that consuming added sugars can lead to unhealthy weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay.


“Kids can fill up on these drinks rather than on healthier foods and drinks,” said Karol Fink, manager of the Obesity Prevention and Control Program, the Alaska Division of Public Health. “Those sugars and calories add up.”


A recent survey of Alaska high school students shows that those who report a high consumption of sugary drinks are more likely to be overweight or obese than their peers. One out of three Alaska children is overweight or obese – and obese kids tend to grow up to be obese adults.


The health costs add up. Alaska spends about $459 million every year on obesity-related medical expenses, according to a recent analysis, and the impact on work productivity, social and emotional health, and the health habits of future generations only increases the public health toll.


What you drink is as important as what you eat when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight and developing healthy habits. Water hydrates our bodies efficiently, contains no calories and no added sugars, and is often more convenient and affordable than other drinks. Milk adds calories, but provides essential vitamins and nutrients.


Next time you sit at the family table this holiday season, talk turkey to your kids about how much sugar is hidden in sugary drinks. For the best health, serve water or milk. Get the facts on sugary drinks at Play Every Day.

11/18/2014 12:13 PM

Looking for fun ways to play and motivation for getting physically active? Check out the 11 entries to the 2014 Play Every Day student video contest. This fall, kids from seven elementary schools in four school districts submitted short videos telling the story of play through images of kids jumping, sledding, climbing, skiing, running, and throwing balls.

 SalchaPSA 2014-11-14 Blizzard250x250.jpg

Salcha Elementary School won first place with a video showing kids sledding, skiing and going down slides while singing, “Twinkle, twinkle play outside, outside in the northern lights.” The short clip includes a comical twist about the weather and supports the message of physical activity. “How do you play?” the children ask. “It doesn’t matter what you do, just get outside and play every day.”


Ronda Schlumbohm, the sponsoring teacher of the winning team, said, “I love to let my students have the opportunity to say what they think and to get out a message. We do believe in getting outside and playing every day, because lots of brain research has been done in this area that proves that getting out is beneficial for children.”


Her 2nd/3rd grade class at Salcha, one of the smallest schools in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, won by coupling playfulness with zeal.


The creative process began when Mariko Kinikin, a district technology teacher, shared the technical requirements with students and helped them look for and define the elements of a good public service announcement (PSA), explained Schlumbohm. Kinikin talked to the class about the different ways to approach a PSA, such as humor, song and a straightforward message.


“The funny thing is that when we put it together, we did all three,” said Schlumbohm.


Kinikin also helped a 5th and 6th grade class at Salcha research and edit another video that tied for third place. Students started by looking at PSAs and then developed scripts, learned how to shoot film with iPads, and filmed and assessed four pilot PSAs, said Matt Anderson, the sponsoring teacher. After collectively choosing the strongest PSA, they re-shot it with a better camera.


“It was great to watch my students find workable solutions to some of the same problems that I had when I was first starting out,” said Anderson. “This process illustrates what can happen when children are given tools and expectations and then, with proper scaffolding, allowed to solve their own problems. This project was a first step.  I have no doubt that we will be doing more with video as the year progresses and I am really looking forward to it.”


Academy Charter School from the Mat-Su Borough School District won second place and Polaris K-12 from the Anchorage School District tied with Salcha for third place.


All 26 fifth-graders from the Academy class made their own videos from the same raw footage, said Julie Real, one of the sponsoring teachers. In doing so, they touched on technology, writing and public speaking. The class then decided on the four best videos and submitted them.


At Polaris, Corey Aist’s class of 4th and 5th graders practiced how to work together to accomplish a specific task, while he and a volunteer parent assisted. “They were excited,” he said. “They brainstormed, created a plan and story map, and wrote the script. Later, we helped edit it down to the 25 second limit.”


All PSA contest entries were due Oct. 31 and were free to submit. Students were instructed to show how children get out and play or complete the Healthy Futures Challenge, a physical activity program in more than 170 elementary schools across the state.


The contest received videos from Polaris and Lake Otis Elementary from the Anchorage School District, Academy and Trapper Creek from the Mat-Su Borough School District, Salcha and Chinook Charter from the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and Fort Yukon from the Yukon Flats School District.


Staff from Play Every Day and Healthy Futures voted on the winning entries by looking at creativity, technical quality, school and community activities represented, following the contest rules, and overall presentation.


Salcha will receive a $500 gift card to purchase physical activity equipment for all students, plus $25 gift cards for up to 10 students who created the video to purchase physical activity equipment. Everyone involved in making the videos will get Play Every Day T-shirts. In addition, Play Every Day plans to share the winning video through social media and TV.


The Play Every Day campaign has posted all of the submitted school videos on its YouTube channel, and will be sharing a number of them through its Facebook page.

11/5/2014 2:45 PM

140605 KTVA Studio-9949 webNoSodaBottle.jpg

Just how much sugar can be hiding in a 20-ounce bottle of soda?
You can show the answer in teaspoons of sugar –16 or more – or by using an easily recognizable food comparison: One 20-ounce bottle of soda could contain as much sugar as 16 chocolate mini doughnuts.
With that in mind, Play Every Day launched its new public education campaign on sugary drinks this month with a TV public service announcement, printed posters for schools and health clinics, a new website and a school lesson plan that uses the doughnut and soda comparison to shine a spotlight on the large amount of sugar hidden in many types of sugary drinks.
The point is to bring attention to the amount of added sugar Alaska families drink when they serve soda or fruit-flavored, powdered, sports, energy and even vitamin-enhanced drinks during meals and snacks. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, added sugars contribute about 16 percent of the total calories in American diets, and almost half of that comes from sugary drinks.
The campaign goes beyond raising awareness and inspires families to reduce the amount of sugar sweetened beverages served to children. Sugary drinks contribute to a number of serious health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. In Alaska, one out of three children is overweight or obese; and two out of three adults are overweight or obese. 
For the first three years of the Play Every Day campaign, the primary focus has been on the importance of daily physical activity for the best health and maintaining a healthy weight. Campaign messages have promoted at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day for children and participation in the Healthy Futures Challenge – a free school-based physical activity challenge that’s now in about 160 elementary schools across Alaska.
The campaign will continue to focus on the health benefits of physical activity while also working toward reducing the consumption of sugary drinks and promoting water and fat-free or low-fat milk as the healthiest drink options for Alaska children and their families.
Staff from the Play Every Day campaign and state Obesity Prevention and Control Program will visit Spring Hill Elementary in Anchorage on November 6 and Two Rivers Elementary near Fairbanks on November 10 to share the new sugary drinks lesson plan with health and physical education classes.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-10</hide>October 2014 ‎(3)
10/22/2014 9:25 AM

If you’re a third grader at Seward Elementary, you will have physical education class on Monday.
You’ll have it on Tuesday, too. And again Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
In fact, by the enMark Fraad Seward250x250.jpgd of the week, all students in grades 3 to 5 at Seward’s only elementary school will have 30 minutes of PE, five days a week, meeting the recommended 150 weekly minutes of PE for elementary-age children. When you add in the morning and lunch recess time, Seward’s children are getting the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity for good health – all before they leave school at the end of the day.
That makes Seward a standout school for the amount of PE and activity children get every day. Seward Elementary has only one PE teacher for the whole school – Mark Fraad. So how does one teacher provide PE instruction to hundreds of kids every day of the week? Fraad explained how the whole school worked together during the 2005-06 school year to make PE a priority.
Back then, Seward Elementary offered only two or three PE classes a week, each 30 minutes long, for students in all grades. That is still the case for grades K-2, but the staff wanted to offer daily PE to grades 3-5.
Fraad said the teachers and Principal David Kingsland – who remains the principal today –looked at research showing that children do better academically when they are active in structured (PE classes) and unstructured (recess) ways and that their behavior improves, too.
The school’s staff knew they wanted to give the older children more PE time each week, so they asked themselves what they could change to make that happen.
Fraad said they agreed to compromises. School staff moved lunch into the classrooms to free up the gym for one or two more PE periods each day. Fraad took on more PE classes daily, too, and now teaches 10 to 11 thirty-minute PE periods a day.
“Our gym is always full,” he said. “We always have kids moving.”
Other teachers got involved, too, taking kids out for extra recess when possible. When Fraad has funds to buy additional physical activity equipment, he looks for what he calls “Take 10” equipment – anything you can use when you have just 10 minutes to be active in class. Every bit of activity counts. Fraad and other Seward Elementary teachers also offer five after-school intramural activities each year – cross country running, soccer, basketball, volleyball and cross country skiing. When classrooms achieve a goal, they ask for an extra PE class instead of treats.
“We’re offering a healthy alternative to the pizza party,” Fraad said.
Fraad said school staff noticed improved student performance immediately after adding more PE time.
During the school year following the addition of PE classes, the percent of students proficient in math skills increased in grades 3-6 (Seward Elementary taught preschool through sixth grade until last year, when sixth grade moved to the middle school). The percent of students proficient in reading skills also increased in grades 3 and 5.
“We believe incorporating PE every day was a contributing factor in bringing our school’s percent proficient up and keeping it at that high level in the subsequent years,” said David Kingsland, who has been principal at Seward Elementary for the past 15 years.
Fraad said not all schools will be able to make the same changes Seward Elementary did to add more PE and activity to their students’ days. Every school has challenges to overcome to add physical activity, but he said there may be compromises that would add more recess or PE time. It’s paid off for Seward’s kids, Fraad said, helping them stay in shape physically and scholastically.
“Physical activity improves academics,” he said. “It improves kids’ behavior.”

Photo features PE teacher Mark Fraad of Seward Elementary juggling with work and play.
10/13/2014 9:57 AM

15-OPCP-0907-School PSA Poster-250x.jpgAlaska kids, you still have time to create and film a short video about how you get out and play.
The Play Every Day campaign’s video PSA contest ends Friday, October 31. The contest is challenging elementary school students across Alaska to create a 25-second video about how they get physically active every day, complete the Healthy Futures Challenge, or a combination of both. The Healthy Futures Challenge continues in 190 Alaska schools this month. So far, more than 12,000 children across the state have completed Challenge logs showing they’ve been physically active each week this fall.
Film that fun activity and show off how you play.
Here’s how the contest works:
Who: All Alaska public elementary school students in grades K-6. All entries must be supported and sponsored by a teacher or another adult school staff member. Students should take the lead in the creative direction and production, but an adult can advise students and help with the filming.
What: Make a 25-second public service announcement (PSA) video that motivates Alaska kids and families to get physically active and stay healthy.
When: Start now! Come up with your ideas, film the video and turn it in by 5 p.m. October 31, 2014.
Where: Film the creative ways you are physically active at your school or in your communities.
Why: Because playing is fun, and so is filming videos with your friends.
A panel of judges from the Play Every Day campaign and Healthy Futures will select the top three videos based on overall presentation, creativity, quality and following the contest criteria. The school that films the first-place video will receive a $500 gift card to buy physical activity equipment for the school, plus $25 gift cards for up to 10 students who worked closely on the video. Prizes include Play Every Day T-shirts for participating students, teachers and the principal.
Want more information about the contest? Please visit our webpage to learn more.
10/7/2014 11:24 AM

Stormy weather can make walking to work or school a challenge, but with the right gear and knowledge, kids can turn the trip to school into a lifetime habit of good health. International Walk to School Day serves as a reminder that daily life offers plenty of opportunity for physical activity. FiveKidsWalkingSchool250x250.jpg
All three schools in Petersburg registered for the event this year. “It’s important for people to see they can walk and make it part of what they do every day,” said Ginger Evens, the Healthy Living Grant Coordinator for the Petersburg City School District, one of eight districts receiving state grants to help reduce childhood obesity by improving school nutrition and physical activity at school. “If you have to get a ride to school because you live 10 miles out, then leave the car at the boat harbor and walk the last half mile. We want to encourage that walking is okay. We want the high school kids to know that walking downtown at lunch is a good thing.”
This year, Walk to School Day takes place on Wednesday, October 8. What began as a one-day event in 1997 grew into an international walking day in communities throughout the United States and Canada. The goal centers on creating safe routes and walkable communities, and encouraging people to explore their routes by foot.
Evens would love to see high participation at Stedman Elementary, Mitkof Middle School, and Petersburg High School, but she knows the younger kids will hit the pavement in higher numbers. “I’d be happy if a few kids in high school say they walked,” she said.
All three schools have put notices out in school bulletins and informed students about the event. Primary teachers have talked to their students about the importance of using crosswalks and sidewalks, walking the right direction and making sure they can be seen. The day of the event, Evens will conduct a survey to figure out how Petersburg kids do get to school so she can look at ways to make walking appealing.
In the end, walking to school or work means choosing self-locomotion as transportation and getting healthier because of it.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-09</hide>September 2014 ‎(4)
9/30/2014 4:13 PM

KidsFunRunningHFShot 9.30.14.jpg
Fun runs and daily play change in beautiful ways come fall and winter. The leaves turn color and coat the ground. The air crisps up and ignites the last smells of summer. The sound of footsteps begins to soften.

Welcome to some of the best running of the year. The Bonny Sosa Tuesday Night Race Series continues in Anchorage through October, along with an array of walking and running events that keep the chilling, darkening season warmed up throughout Alaska.
Get the skinny on fall and winter events through Play Every Day, Healthy Futures, and the Municipality of Anchorage Runners Calendar.
Here’s a quick rundown of a few family-friendly events throughout Alaska this October:
Oct. 4
  • Hit the Trails: 5k and 2k options, 10 a.m. at Trailside Elementary in Anchorage
  • The Home Run: 5k and 10k loop courses, 8:15 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., 3190 Alumni Drive in Anchorage,
  • It Ain’t Easy Hill Run: 5 miles flat, 11.3 miles hilly, 10 a.m. at Dog Mushers Hall, Farmers Loop in Fairbanks,
Oct. 5
  • Readers on the Run: 5k walk/run, 11 a.m. John Trigg Ester Library Gazebo in Fairbanks
Oct 11
  • Run the Rock: 10k at 10 a.m., 13.1 mile at 10 a.m., 5k at 12:30 p.m., starting at the Bear Valley Golf Course in Kodiak,
Oct. 18
Oct. 25
  • Skinny Raven Frightening 4k: 11 a.m. at the Captain Cook Hotel in Anchorage,
  • 33rd Halloween Family Run: 2 and 10 miles, 10 a.m. at the UAF Patty Center in Fairbanks,
  • 2nd Annual Costume Run 5k: meet at 11 a.m. at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center,
9/22/2014 4:33 PM


Nearly 1,000 people will jog, run, walk and sprint over and through leaves, mud and puddles in each of eight races in the Bonny Sosa Tuesday Night Race Series this fall. The event run by Anchorage Parks and Recreation has engaged people of all ages in fun runs on city trails for decades.
The rainier and windier the night, the fewer the participants, but not by a lot — 854 people joined the first race this year compared to 1,100 who ran the second “less rainy and windy night,” said Margaret Timmerman of Parks and Recreation.
Needless to say, rain, wind and other dynamics like hilly courses and competitors in costume make for fun and unpredictable workouts. The race lengths vary for age, interest and skill, with courses ranging from a few kilometers for kids and kids at heart, 3 to 10 for recreational runners, and 4 to 12 for competitive racers. 
Timmerman reiterated the core principle of the program when giving tips for kids of all ages: “Stay on course, watch for trail markers and enjoy yourself,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you place, just that you get out and run.”
The race series represents just one of the many ways Anchorage supports getting out and playing. Remember to check out the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Activity Guide for activities like swimming, basketball, dance, skiing and yoga. Many are free or low-cost and open to all skill levels and ages.
As for the Tuesday Races, well they continue through the costume run on Oct. 28 and the awards banquet on Nov. 4. Online registration closes at 6 p.m. on the day of the event, with race time at 6:30 p.m. On-site registration is available at some races, but check online to confirm.
Here’s the remaining 2014 race schedule:   
·        September 23 - Tozier Track
·        September 30 - East High
·        October 7 - Russian Jack Springs Park (Cartee Fields)
·        October 14 - Service High
·        October 21 - Service High
·        October 28 - Kincaid Park Costume Run
·        November 4 - Kincaid Outdoor Center

Photo courtesy Anchorage Parks and Recreation
9/9/2014 11:52 AM

Hey Alaska kids:

Do you have a fun way you like to play?
We challenge you to show us what that looks like. The Play Every Day campaign is holding a video PSA contest challenging elementary school students across Alaska to create a short video about how you get out and play. The deadline for entries is Friday, October 31. 15-OPCP-0907-School PSA Poster-3C-SJ[1].jpg
Last year, Gladys Wood Elementary School in Anchorage created a fun video about how students there get physically active and do the Healthy Futures Challenge, which kicks off again in 186 Alaska schools this week. We thought the idea was so creative we decided to start a statewide video contest.
Use your video to show how you get physically active every day, complete the Healthy Futures Challenge, or a combination of both.
Here’s how it works:
Who: All Alaska public elementary school students in grades K-6. All entries must be supported and sponsored by a teacher or another adult school staff member. Students should take the lead in the creative direction and production, but an adult can advise students and help with the filming.
What: Make a 25-second public service announcement (PSA) video that motivates Alaska kids and families to get physically active and stay healthy.
When: Start now! Come up with your ideas, film the video and turn it in by 5 p.m. October 31, 2014.
Where: Film the creative ways you are physically active at your school or in your communities.
Why: Because playing is fun, and so is filming videos with your friends.
A panel of judges from the Play Every Day campaign and Healthy Futures will select the top three videos based on overall presentation, creativity, quality and adherence to the contest criteria. The school that films the first-place video will receive a $500 gift card to buy physical activity equipment for the school, plus $25 gift cards for up to 10 students who worked closely on the video. Prizes include Play Every Day T-shirts for participating students, teachers and the principal.
Want more information about the contest? Please visit our webpage to learn more.
Now grab your friends and make a movie – kids, cameras, ACTION!

9/3/2014 11:15 AM

Jamboree.healthy futures 224.jpg

Give a kid a race bib, and she’ll run. Give him a finish line, and he’ll lunge over it. Rain or shine, breezy or chilly, the Anchorage School District’s Elementary Cross-Country Jamborees give kids a chance to dash and run away with a sense of accomplishment.

“Much like the Tuesday Night Race series organized by the Muni, these Jamborees offer our children's families low-stakes and high-energy opportunities for healthy exercise and play,” said Ben Elbow, a co-organizer of the North Anchorage Jamboree and a physical education teacher at Rogers Park Elementary. “As a parent and teacher in Anchorage, I'm thankful for our city's tremendous trail system and appreciate all the dedicated volunteers who help organize these events.”
The annual citywide event began in 1987 when Baxter Elementary teacher Mike Allan threw the first Jamboree with help from Baxter Community Schools. He ran the Jamborees until 2003, when the elementary school physical education staff decided to split the race into three regional events in north Anchorage, south Anchorage, and Eagle River. By then, many schools had formed after-school running groups to help kids build endurance and confidence while playing games and running.
Now thousands of kids join the Jamborees across the city, and all receive ribbons after their photo finish.
"The Anchorage Elementary School Jamborees are one of the truly great Alaskan family traditions and they embody everything Healthy Futures stands for," said Harlow Robinson, the executive director of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame and the Healthy Futures program. "We are proud to be a partner and to support the event any way we can."
Students can get a head start on the Jamborees by doing the Coyote Classic at Kincaid Elementary on Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. Get a rundown of events and fun runs for kids here and on the Healthy Futures calendar. Here are the dates and times of the upcoming Jamborees:
·        Beach Lake Trails (Eagle River) Jamboree – Thursday, Sept. 11, at the Chugiak High School soccer fields and trails starting at 5 p.m.
·        North Anchorage Jamboree – Wednesday, Sept. 24, at Bartlett High School starting at 5 p.m.
·        South Anchorage Jamboree – Saturday, Sept. 27, at Service High School starting at 9:30 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Healthy Futures. 
collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-08</hide>August 2014 ‎(3)
8/27/2014 4:05 PM

BlueberryJamGirlinPinkSkikuShot2014.jpgThe first Blueberry Jam Fun Run in Kotzebue last year drew 65 people to the rolling, scenic course. Skiku coaches expected a few more this year and ended up picking barely enough berries for the 265 people who walked, jogged and ran across the finish line.

With ripe fruit and beautiful terrain as ingredients, the Blueberry Jam represents one of the many activities orchestrated by Skiku – sometimes known as NANANordic – to promote a healthy and active lifestyle for Alaska kids. What began as a Nordic ski program now integrates running, biking, and duathlon training with skate skiis and laser rifles.
“Being active all year is what we’re promoting,” said Robin Kornfield, the program manager for Skiku and vice president of communications and marketing for NANA Development. “Hunting, fishing and gathering are part of the lifestyle, and this fits into what people already do.”
Skiku runs a Nordic ski program in March and a running program in August. Competitive skiers come from throughout the country coach school kids in communities like Selawik, Kotzebue, Noatak and Shungnak. These volunteers teach physical fitness, Nordic skiing, the winter duathlon and all manner of play and, in turn, get to experience Alaska in a one-of-a-kind way.
The program also provides equipment to kids and schools to help sustain enthusiasm throughout the seasons. This year, Anchorage bicycle shops donated bikes so that kids can ride all year.
Through camps, gear and a good dose of play, the program helps “even people who aren’t into skiing or running stay active and involved,” said Kornfield.


Photo by Zach Hall, courtesy of Skiku.


8/14/2014 10:41 AM

blueberries.jpgThey abound in yards, along trails, in the alpine tundra. They appear bold and plump, bright and dense, firm and tender. They taste impeccable by the handful, on oatmeal, in smoothies.

Yep, its berry picking time in Alaska and this year’s pickings look plentiful and ripe. Gathering berries gets us outside and moving, while also yielding a cache of goodies to eat, freeze, can and dry for months to come.  
“All of Alaska’s berries, like blueberries, cranberries, and currents, provide vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that can help prevent chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” said Diane Peck, the Public Health Nutritionist for the state’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program.
“Cup for cup, cloudberries, or low-bush salmonberries, provide three times the amount of vitamin C in orange juice.”
Leslie Shallcross, an associate professor in the Anchorage office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, agreed. “Alaska wild berries are true nutrition power houses with even higher levels of antioxidants than their Lower 48 counterparts and the most abundant fruit type growing in Alaska,” she added. “Regular consumption of berries has been linked to many health benefits such as improved memory, lower blood sugar levels and decreased pain.”
All of which is to say, there are many good reasons to fill a pail with berries. Many Alaskans hold dear the secret to their favorite berry patch, of course, but it only takes a bit of looking to find one.
“Some of the parks in Anchorage will have blueberries, lingonberries, watermelon berries, currants, rose hips, high bush cranberry,” said Shallcross. “For family outings, Girdwood, Arctic Valley, Hatcher's Pass, Hope are favorites in South Central. …Some only grown in the damper, milder temperatures of Southeast Alaska.”
Berries don’t grow abundantly in the same places every year, so it pays to go on hikes ahead of time to look for flowers and immature berries. The exact ripening period varies in different regions and years, but most berries are ready to pick in mid to late July through August, with some ripening as late as September.
Some popular types of berries ripen in this order, from early to late summer -- wild strawberry, currants, wild raspberry, cloudberry, nagoonberry, salmonberry, blueberry, highbush cranberry, rosehip, crowberry, service berry.
“Altogether, there are around 40 different edible berries, although not all of these are tasty,” said Shallcross.
A few are poisonous or unpalatable, so it’s important to know how to identify them. Baneberry is particularly poisonous and just a few berries can lead to death. Adults should make sure children know how to identify safe berries before picking them, and beware of wildlife, plant live (like Devil’s club) and other hazards associated with the wilderness.
Parents should make sure their children know how to identify safe berries before picking them, and beware of wildlife, plant life (like Devil’s club) and other hazards associated with the wilderness.  As always when headed outdoors, take water and prepare for the weather.
There are numerous online sources to help, like Berry picking 101, as well as books like Verna Pratt's Alaska's Wild Berries and Berry-like Fruit and from Wild Edible and Poisonous Plants of Alaska. Other sources can give tips on how to store and prepare wild berries.
Armed with some knowledge and an appetite, everyone can fill up on one of the healthiest food on the planet by plucking them from the berry playground within your reach. 
8/5/2014 1:06 PM

Maybe you rent an apartment and don’t have a yard. Perhaps you have a yard, but it’s not big enough for a garden that feeds your family. Or, maybe you just like to plant vegetables among family, friends and neighbors.

All of these are great reasons to check out a local community garden program in your city. A number of Alaska communities have low-cost garden plots that you can rent to supply your family with lettuce, carrots and other vegetables throughout the summer. Here are links to some of them, but call your city to ask about gardens in your area:
These websites will help you find out when to register for a plot, what supplies are available and the rules for renting garden space. Fair warning: Community garden programs can be very popular and there may be waiting lists due to a limited number of plots.
There are lots of benefits to renting garden plots. You know what goes into your greens, and you can’t get much more local than your own garden plot. You have a place to be physically active — preparing the land, planting and harvesting — and reap the healthy rewards at your dinner table. You can get your kids involved, showing them how to grow their own food.
What can you grow? On its website, Juneau’s garden association calls potatoes “practically foolproof” and rhubarb “almost effortless.” The association recommends planting a short row of lettuce every couple of weeks, and to consider kale, a leafy green that “loves our weather.”
You can also save money by renting a garden plot. The cost for one plot in Anchorage is $35. In Juneau, plots also cost $35. The plot cost in Fairbanks is $40. Some gardens come with extras, including water for irrigation, picnic tables for family gatherings, portable toilets and a nearby area for kids to get out and play. Families can use their plots to grow their own vegetables without having to spend money purchasing produce that often has to be shipped here from outside states and countries.
Each garden has its rules. You must get your plot ready and planted by a certain time each year, and you need to tend your garden a certain numbers of hours each week. You need to be a good neighbor and keep your produce inside your plot boundaries. And you need to clean up after yourself at the end of the harvest.
Community gardens are in full swing this summer, but be sure to check out your community’s website to learn more about how you can grow your family’s food on a rented garden plot.
(Photo copyright 2013 Nathaniel Wilder. Used with permission from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.) 
collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-07</hide>July 2014 ‎(3)
7/30/2014 11:04 AM

A person at play needs the right fuel to do it. For that, nothing beats Alaska farmers markets, where you can find fresh, flavorful and nutritious vegetables, meat, seafood and bread.
FM-Quest 5.jpg
Through the collaborative effort of state agencies, the United States Department of Agriculture and local farmers markets, Alaskans with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as the Food Stamp Program) benefits can purchase foods from 11 farmers markets throughout the state.
Using Alaska Quest cards – the means for accessing SNAP benefits— eligible Alaskans can also take advantage of a matching program supported by the state that allows them to purchase up to $40 worth of eligible market foods for $20.
“My goal is to increase access to and the availability of healthy foods,” said Diane Peck, the Public Health Nutritionist for the state’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program. “Local food, especially produce, is very healthy, fresh, and it supports local farmers and businesses, supports our economy, and all of that helps public health.”
The Alaska Farmers Markets – Quest Card Program began promoting and supporting the implementation of electronic banking at two pilot markets in 2011 using funds provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Electronic card readers allow markets to accept Quest cards. The pilot markets yielded $13,000 the first year. The program expanded from there, earning markets revenue of $50,000 in 2012 and $114,000 in 2013 when the matching program began.
This year, 11 markets accept Quest cards in Anchorage, Bethel, Homer, Fairbanks, Petersburg, Sitka and Willow, and all provide access to the matching program.
Access to fresh local foods makes a difference in health and the local community, said Peck. A survey of Quest card users showed their enthusiasm for supporting local farmers and having access to an array of organic foods, she said, and that means growing the customer base for local farmers.
7/23/2014 11:39 AM


When you bike, you need wheels. When you swim,
you need water. When you KikkanHollyFishRunningSoShouldYou07.23.2014.jpgski you need snow and boards under your feet. But when you run, you need little more than the right attitude.
“You can cover distance, you can do it anywhere, and you don’t need equipment to do it,” said Olympic skier Kikkan Randall, who also won the 2011 Mount Marathon trail race.
“And,” added Holly Brooks, the current Mount Marathon champ, “You never know when it’s going to come in handy.”
Like when you go from freeze to speed when playing tag, capture the flag, soccer and “keep-up-with-the-dog.” Truth is, you can jog or run anywhere – on trails, tracks, treadmills, playgrounds, grassy fields, sand, and mountain scree.
Running can also propel you into fun and unexpected territory. Randall got into skiing to stay in shape for cross country running, and later carried that momentum from Mount Marathon to Sochi, Russia – where she raced in the 2014 Winter Olympics where Holly did the same, and many other athletes and Alaskans integrate running into their journeys.
The fish are running and so should you. Check out the Alaska Runner’s Calendar for outdoor events and fun runs throughout Alaska. Here’re a few upcoming highlights from the list:
7/16/2014 10:03 AM

PED blog.jpg


PED signs blog.jpgObesity costs our kids by putting them at risk for childhood diabetes, heart disease, asthma and other chronic conditions, as well as putting stress on their joints, bones and organs.

Now translate that into dollars and cents. The medical cost of childhood obesity will top $625 million dollars over the next 20 years when considering just the current group of children and adolescents in Alaska, according to a new study by the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research.
This number doesn’t include indirect costs of obesity, such as lower productivity, missed time from work or limited education, said the study’s author, Mouhcine Guettabi, an assistant economics professor at UAA.  Guettabi said the number “can be used as the absolute lower boundary of medical cost estimates.”
The study used a 2012 cohort of children from 2 to 19 years old to estimate obesity-related medical costs over 20 years for that group only. The pattern will continue in Alaska as more children are born, grow up, and become obese.
“This picture will repeat itself over and over and over,” Guettabi said.
The study bases its numbers on current patterns of obesity that show 15.2 percent of Alaska’s children classified as obese and 20 percent of non-obese Alaska children become obese adults.
The study concludes that reducing obesity rates in children between 2 and 19 years by 1 percent would save nearly $17 million over 20 years. Decreasing the percentage of non-obese kids who become obese adults by 1 percent would save over $14.3 million over 20 years. Dropping the percentage of obese adolescents who become obese adults would save another $2.9 million.
“The best way to save our children from the health burden of obesity is to prevent it in the first place, address it in childhood, and model family habits that promote lifelong nutrition and physical activity,” said Karol Fink, director of the Obesity Prevention and Control Program for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-05</hide>May 2014 ‎(3)
5/23/2014 9:44 AM



Play it safe: When on wheels, wear a helmet; when on water, wear a life jacket.   
Play every Day Blog
Sunlight and summer break appear on every kid’s ingredient list for play, but the recipe for fun should include safety gear, too.
Injury is the leading cause of death for Alaska children.Helmets and life jackets can make the difference between life and death when kids play on wheels or water.
Gaining speed and doing tricks on bikes, skates, scooters, skateboards and unicycles means risking unexpected bumps and falls. Thrills and spills happen, of course, but standard safety precautions can reduce the incidence and severity of injury.
“Both children and adults need to be wearing a helmet and be knowledgeable about the rules of the road,” said Stephanie Holmquist, program manager for the Be Safe Be Seen program for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. “Bicyclists should be aware of cars at all times and never assume the vehicle can see you. Wearing a reflector is a great way to be noticed by vehicles during the day or at night.”
Make sure helmets fit snugly and that kids know the importance of visibility. Even in daylight, reflectors and bright clothing help, and making eye contact with others on the road or trail means seeing and being seen.
Visit Alaska’s Injury Prevention Program to get more information on bicycle and pedestrian safety or to get reflectors or helmets for your school. Also, check out the testimonial of mixed media artist Margret Hugi-Lewis, who suffered a head injury when skating in her studio.
Kids also spend a lot of time in and around water during the summer months.
“Alaska is a playground surrounded by water,” said Maria Bailey, of theKids Don't Float PFD Loaner Program. “When playing near water or boating, wear a life jacket.”
If you own a boat or spend a lot of time by the water, make sure you have life jackets on hand and that kids wear them. Children under 13 are required by law to wear personal flotation devices when in an open boat, on an open deck and when waterskiing.
Look for the Kids Don’t Float loaner boards at beaches and near bodies of water throughout Alaska. These boards allow you to borrow life jackets free of charge. There are over 500 loaner sites from Adak to Yukon Village.
Whether by land or by water, help kids play safely so they play every day all summer long.
5/16/2014 9:47 AM


The first 150 schools that sign up for the Challenge will receive two window clings to display.
Play every Day Blog
It’s hard to think about the next school year when this one is days away from summer break. 
But the Play Every Day campaign is working with Healthy Futuresthis week to sign up Alaska elementary schools for the Fall Healthy Futures Challenge next September.
Getting schools signed up now means teachers and other staff can prepare to kick off the physical activity challenge when the 2014-15 school year begins.
If you’re a principal, teacher or school staff member, visit the Healthy Futures website to sign up your school. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Wednesday, May 14. Don’t wait to register. During the registration period for the Spring Healthy Futures Challenge that just ended, 90 schools signed up in the first hour and the first 150 schools signed up in three days.
Current funding allows Healthy Futures to provide prizes to participating students at the first 150 schools that sign up. Those first schools will also receive two window clings to show off their involvement in the Healthy Futures Challenge.
Additional schools that sign up will be added to a waiting list and entered into the Fall Challenge if funding allows.
Here’s how the Fall Healthy Futures Challenge works: The Challenge will run September, October and November 2014. Students in grades K-6 at participating schools will pick up a log form at school each month and mark down the number of days they were physically active. They’ll turn in the log at the end of the month to a designated staff member at their schools. Healthy Futures will send prizes to the school staff to distribute to students who successfully complete each month of the Challenge.
Schools with the highest participation rates also can win Healthy Futures grants to buy health and physical education equipment.
If you’re a student or a parent who wants to make sure your school participates, please talk to your school’s staff and encourage them to register the school online. The Fall Challenge is free for schools and students throughout Alaska.
Join the fun, and get out and play, every day.


5/7/2014 9:49 AM

The latest Play Every Day PSAtalks about how obesity effects children on the inside.   
Play every Day Blog
Some people focus on obesity because of how it looks on the outside. They consider it a cosmetic problem. But obesity is also a physical problem, and it impacts adults – and kids – from the inside out.
On the inside of the body, even in children, obesity leads to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the body working overtime to balance blood sugar and get enough oxygen. The burden of this extra work can lead to heart disease, diabetes and asthma in childhood and later in life.
Extra weight in kids further “puts strain on joints that can result in knee, hip, and back pain that keep kids from being active 60 minutes a day,” said Karol Fink, director of the Obesity Prevention and Control Program for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
Yet an hour of physical activity a day is essential to our children’s health. That’s why Play Every Day produced a PSA to make Alaskans aware that it’s what’s on the inside that matters.
“Because of what is going on inside of our children’s bodies,” said Fink, “it is predicted that the current generation of children and youth will be diagnosed with chronic medical conditions earlier in life than the generations before.”
Fortunately we can fix this. Get out and play with your children, cut down on screen time, create family time around physical activity and healthy meals, and help build communities that make physical activity safe and easy for people of all ages.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-04</hide>April 2014 ‎(4)
4/30/2014 9:50 AM

Kids ride for health, fun and friendship on Bike to School Day.   
Play every Day Blog
Leave the bus stop behind and hop on your bike instead.
On May 7, join students from more than 40 Anchorage schools in riding your bikes to school.National Bike to School Dayprovides a fun, healthy alternative for getting to school in the morning.
Students at Alpenglow Elementary in Eagle River will be joined by a special guest rider on their way to school – cross country skier Sadie Bjornsen, fresh off her Olympic races in Sochi, Russia.
The goal is to bike to school safely, so the Bicycle Shop is partnering with the Anchorage School District to hold a Bike Safety Check and Carnival at their 1801 W. Dimond Blvd. store from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 3.Safety experts will make sure the bikes are safe for pedaling to school, help adjust helmets, and provide other safety tips.
Students who bike to school on May 7 must wear helmets and should wear bright clothing so they can be more easily seen on the road.
Parents, we didn’t mean to leave you out. Join your sons and daughters on their ride to school, then just keep on going and bike all the way to the office. (You’ll have a jumpstart on Bike to Work Day, which will take place in Anchorage on June 4!)
Find out if your children’s schools are participating in Bike to School day. If not, you can call the school staff and encourage them to sign up – and, of course, bike to school and work anyway! 
4/22/2014 9:52 AM

College Gate Elementary students show the joy of play during their Make Your Move video shoot.   
Play every Day Blog
Katie Povolo teaches PE atCollege Gate Elementary and Stephen Kennedy runs the Anchorage School District’s ASD-TV. Together with College Gate students and ASD staff, they created one of five grand prize videos in the national Make Your Move video competition run by Quaker Oats and sponsored by the NFL’s Fuel Up to Play 60program.  Hundreds of schools submitted entries.
The College Gate video won a $15,000 grand prize toward outdoor PE gear, plus a school visit by Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith of the Seattle Seahawks. Smith visited College Gate on April 11 to congratulate students and staff on the video and share his thoughts about fitness and nutrition.
The prize money went toward cross country skis that are on order now, due at the school next fall, as part of the program's mission to get kids physically active one hour every day. Povolo has already implemented an ongoing "Fuel Up To Play 60" program with a fruit and veggie contest, a push up and sit up contest, a “PE class of the week” selection, and morning music to get kids up and out of their seats during the day's announcements.
The video produced great results for the school and its students. Here, Povolo and Kennedy explain how it got made:
POVOLO: I saw the Fuel Up To Play 60 "Make Your Move" contest this fall. I was very interested in entering the contest because it had a huge grand prize of $15,000 and that can purchase a lot of awesome physical education equipment for my students.
KENNEDY: It was pretty crazy. I remember we had only a week or two before the submission deadline, which in my realm is like trying to cook a frozen turkey in 10 minutes. 
POVOLO: Melanie Sutton (ASD), myself and Stephen got together for some creative brainstorming and came up with the creative slogan "Fuel Up To Play the Alaska Way" and that the (prize) money would be used to purchase cross country skis and snowshoes for our students at College Gate. … I talked about Alaska winters being dark, cold, and long, and that having skis and snowshoes would be a wonderful way to bring my physical education students outside into nature while exercising.
KENNEDY: I spent the entire school recess with Katie on the day of our recording. It's such a joy to get out and spend time with our students and staff, easily the best part of my job. We just got out there and exercised and played with all the students. It was an absolute blast! … Afterwards, I spent about eight hours putting it all together.  I had to crush about an hour of footage down to 60 seconds. That was my biggest challenge.
POVOLO: When Stephen finished the video and sent it to me I was elated. It turned out so fantastic! I submitted the entry in November and was notified on January 6th that we had won the grand prize of $15,000.
Check out all the Make Your Move contest winners and think about what you can do to inspire play in your school and community.


4/15/2014 9:53 AM


Taking flight in spring light. Photo courtesy of NANANordic.   
Play every Day Blog
If you put kids on skis, they’ll use them to skate ski, ski jump, skijor, do biathlons, and race across snow and ice to their hearts’ content.
That’s the idea two-time Olympian Lars Flora took to the NANA Development Corporation in 2011.The following year, he and 20 volunteers held weeklong cross country skiing camps for 650 students in Kotzebue, Kiana, Selawik and Noorvik.
NANANordic ignited, with twice as many coaches heading to NANA region villages and Anaktuvuk Pass this month to run ski camps for 2,000 kids in 12 communities. Getting and moving gear and coaches to the villages takes time, money and resources, but the results take no time to see.
“After raising money, buying skis, getting coaches there, and doing so much more to make it happen, you go to these schools and see that it’s so simple, so tangible, so apparent that the program fills a huge need,” said Robin Kornfield, program manager for NANANordic and vice president of communications and marketing for NANA Development Corporation.
The program’s coaching pool includes Olympians, World Cup skiers, university coaches, and student athletes. The program focuses on skiing for fun, but it shares an enthusiasm and expectation for healthy habits.
“They’re drinking water, not soda,” said Kornfield. “They’re eating apples, not candy.”
Coaches often ski from village to village, where they camp at schools, prepare their own meals, and work all day with kids during physical education classes before opening up ski cam to the whole community. Some of these villages of 100 to 3,500 residents have a skiing history.
Flora looks at the program in terms of a long-term commitment. “It’s about getting people acquainted, if not competing,” he said. “It’s about finding ways to make skiing a regular part of their lives.”
To that end, NANANordic donates skis to the school districts so the villages can make gear available to people all year. The program also supports efforts to get kids on skis in Anchorage, and coordinates rural Alaska running camps in the fall to complement the spring skiing camps.
This month, coaches will complete camps in 12 communities: Kotzebue, Kiana, Ambler, Shungnak, Noatak, Noorvik, Deering, Anaktuvuk Pass, Kivalina, Selawik, Kobuk, and Buckland. For more information,


4/2/2014 9:53 AM

Get your feet wet to support Healthy Futures.   
Play every Day Blog
Kids don’t really care what the weather’s like outside.
They just want to play. You see it in the smiling boy being picked up from school, snowsuit sopping wet and covered with mud from spring puddles. The girl next to him has the same smile on her face, covered cheek to cheek in dirt after an afternoon outside.
So why don’t we take a cue from them?
One of the first running races of this spring is being organized by Play Every Day’s partner – Healthy Futures. The Tough Slusher will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 12, on the field and trails northeast of Service High School in Anchorage. The race, which will have a 5K and 2K course, is one of the official events recognizing the Anchorage Centennial.
Race organizers know it’s likely going to be snowy and slushy. In fact, Healthy Futures executive director Harlow Robinson hopes it’s a mushy course. It's not called the “Tough Slusher” for nothing. 
“Wear your rubber boots!” Robinson said. “Come out and have fun.”
It may be cold … or it may be warm. It’s really tough to say this time of year. But who cares, right?
The race is not competitive, is open to people of all ages, and has no registration fee. The Slusher is a fundraiser for Healthy Futures, however. The signature program of the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame,Healthy Futures has the mission of encouraging Alaska children to build the daily habit of physical activity for good health. It supports that mission by organizing low-cost family-friendly events and school-based physical activity challenges each year. (Kids, you can count the Tough Slusher as an activity on your Healthy Futures Challenge log for April!)
Participants who contribute a minimum donation of $20 will receive a Healthy Futures T-shirt.
Robinson said he hopes the Tough Slusher becomes an annual event. Alaska Olympic skier Kikkan Randall will start the race taking participants through a course marked by photographs of Anchorage’s recreation history.
“There’s a shot from the 1930s of the people on the ski train,” Robinson said. “There’s a picture of the Eklutna woman’s basketball team from the 1940s.”
Participants will see photographs that go all the way back to the 1910s.
“I hope they walk away feeling like Anchorage is a healthy, active community,” Robinson said.
Register online. If you have questions about the race or the registration process, contact
Just remember to bring your winter coat, your spring rain boots and your sunglasses. You never know which one you’ll need! 

collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-03</hide>March 2014 ‎(2)
3/25/2014 9:54 AM


Woodriver Elementary students spring into action by joining the Challenge.   
Play every Day Blog
Spring in Alaska can feel like a slog sometimes. As the amount of daylight lengthens, the melting begins -- and with it, puddles and mud, ruts and bogs, the colors and odors of winter’s undoing and summer’s approach. All of which means there’s more reason to get outside and play.
Spring means getting on snowshoes one day and biking the next. It means scraping snow and ice before jumping rope in short sleeves. And it means joining the last splash of the Healthy Futures Challenge, a school-based program to help kids get physically active.
Over 10,000 students from 158 elementary schools participated in the Healthy Futures Challenge in February. By the end of this school year, thousands of more students will complete the Challenge.
Kids can still get involved by joining the Challenge at their school and by staying physically active all year through sports, play, exploration, adventure, the performing arts, wilderness camps and much more.
Check your community’s resources for free and affordable programs, park locations, trail maps, event calendars and more. Need suggestions?
The Alaska Runner’s Calendar includes footraces, triathlons, fun runs, orienteering and more events and activities happening throughout the state.
Look for local parks and recreation resources like these for information on events and activities in your community:


3/6/2014 9:55 AM

Woodriver Elementary students demonstrate one way to play every day.   
Play every Day Blog
Play Every Day headed north to Fairbanks this week to kick off two programs that celebrate being physically active, and having a lot of fun while doing it.
Woodriver Elementary Schoolhosted an assembly Wednesday, March 5, that kicked off theHealthy Futures Challenge for March in a record 168 schools across Alaska. Thousands of Alaska elementary-age children are being physically active every week, tracking that activity on simple logs, and turning the logs in each month for prizes. For more than two years, Play Every Day has partnered withthe Healthy Futures program to run school-based physical activity challenges throughout Alaska.
The Woodriver students also were joined by Team Alaska, who will be competing in the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks March 15–22. Team Alaska athletes and Woodriver students raced through an indoor obstacle course that included four Arctic Winter Games sports — basketball, soccer, hockey and gymnastics — and then threw in special skills taught by Woodriver’s physical education teacher — riding a unicycle and jumping on a pogo stick.
Raavee, the Arctic Winter Games raven mascot, got some loud cheers from the kids, but not as loud as the cheering that happened when the Woodriver kids shouted their answer to a question from Healthy Futures executive director Harlow Robinson.
What are you going to do, Woodriver?
Get out and play.
When are you going to do it?
Every day!

collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-02</hide>February 2014 ‎(4)
2/26/2014 9:56 AM

UAA Seawolf hockey players join O'Malley Elementary students in promoting the 2014 Spring Healthy Futures Challenge on Feb. 26.     
Play every Day Blog
What do you get when you put competitive college hockey players on the ice with elementary students? Races, chases, and a whole lot of smiling faces.
Just ask the UAA Seawolf hockey players who skated during an O’Malley Elementary School assembly this week in Anchorage to promote the Spring Healthy Futures Challenge.
First, they played goalie against first-graders on the gym stage and then they laced up their skates to hit the ice rink with fifth-graders who had high participation in past Healthy Futures Challenges.
At least one Seawolf said he hadn’t been on an outdoor rink in years, let alone played a game of Sharks and Minnows.  The experience made him smile.  Joining children on skates, dancing or playing ball supports their need for 60 minutes of physical activity every day and fulfills our own need for playfulness, too.
“Doing these events reminds us of how much fun play can be,” said Ann Potempa, program director for Play Every Day, a program of theDepartment of Health and Social Services. “Seeing kids of all ages being active, whether by ice skating or making an obstacle course in school or at home, shows how easy and joyful it is to play."
The Healthy Futures Challenge, the signature program of the nonprofitAlaska Sports Hall of Fame, encourages physical activity in youth by providing incentives for schools and students to promote and track weekly activity. Play Every Day supports the program’s administration and promotes participation through statewide messages and events.
The next kickoff event takes place next week in Fairbanks when Team Alaska Athletes join a school assembly at Woodriver Elementary School to celebrate the Challenge and the upcoming Arctic Winter Games.
An estimated 17,500 students from elementary schools across Alaska are expected to participate in the Challenge this spring. Healthy Futures and Play Every Day join multiple partners in engaging youth in play to help them maintain healthy weights and sustain healthy habits throughout their lives.

2/19/2014 9:58 AM


When the Dorsch-Aften children joined Healthy Futures Challenge, the whole family started to play every day for health.     
Play every Day Blog
Last fall, 15,794 kids across Alaska committed to the Healthy Futures Challenge. 
Two of those children were Hance, age 10, and Lily, 7. 
These two siblings changed how their whole family looked at physical activity.
It used to be that their mom, Heather, had her own activities. She likes to run and hike, sometimes right out her back door in Anchorage. Their dad, Anthony, also runs. 
But the kids? Heather said it was sometimes a struggle to get them off the couch and moving.  The parents’ efforts to get them outside for an adventure were answered with complaints and moans. 

Then Heather started noticing a change. The kids were asking her if they could get out and play. 
“I was stunned,” Heather said. “I about fell on the floor the first time my daughter came to me and begged me to go out running with her for 30 minutes.”
When Heather asked her why, Lily said she had promised her physical education teacher that she was going to be physically active that day. If she didn’t honor her commitment, she wouldn’t successfully finish theHealthy Futures Challenge that has children logging their physical activity for three months in the fall, and again in the spring. She wouldn’t get her prize at the end of the month if she wasn’t physically active enough days each week. 

Something similar happened another night. 
“We were just about ready to bundle them off to bed when they both protested that they needed to get out and do something or they would come up short for the week,” Heather said. “It was dark and in the single digits, but there was no way I was going to deny them, especially when it was their idea, even if it meant being late to bed.”
The Aften-Dorsch family put on their snow pants, coats and headlamps and went out for a nighttime walk with their dog.
Now, even when the Healthy Futures Challenge is done for the year, the kids still ask to get out and play. As Heather says, the healthy habit has been made, and now they are just active because it’s fun and makes them feel good.
This winter, the Aften-Dorsch family helped the Play Every Day campaign film public service announcements about their commitment to the Healthy Futures Challenge and getting out to play, every day. 
Click on the video below to see what the Challenge has done for this Anchorage family. Find out if your child’s school is signed up for theHealthy Futures Challenge this spring by visiting the Healthy Futures website.

2/11/2014 9:59 AM

Play Every Day's new logo captures the energy of youth at play.
Play every Day Blog
Play Every Day just launched itsFacebook page and invites you to like it, tag it, and share it with friends. You can use the page to access and pass along information, ideas, events and stories related to keeping our kids and families healthy and physically active.
Look to the page for facts about the health benefits of physical activity, nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight. You will also find success stories about Alaska athletes, students, families and leaders making a difference in the health of our youth, as well as details about upcoming races, fun runs, sporting events, Healthy Futures Challenges and more. The Play Every Day page will further connect you to resources and opportunities, and post photos, videos and news that inform and inspire.
Establishing the page allows Play Every Day to become an active member of a community of organizations and individuals devoted to the health of Alaskans.
Now it’s your turn: Go to and let us know how you play every day for healthy kids and healthy communities.

2/4/2014 10:00 AM

The Dorsch-Aften family gets outside to play every day, just another way to commit to the Healthy Futures Challenge and lifelong health.
Play every Day Blog
Our kids need 60 minutes of physical activity every day to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen their hearts, bodies and minds, and build healthy habits that last a lifetime. TheHealthy Futures program helps us rise to the challenge by motivating thousands of kids to get moving each year.
Judging from the program’s growth, kids and schools love the results.The 2014 Spring Healthy Futures Challenge kicks off this week in a record 169 elementary schoolsfrom 37 Alaska school districts, up from 36 schools and four school districts three years ago.
More than 17,000 children are expected to join the spring challenge by walking, climbing, dancing, leaping, skiing, playing ball, setting up home obstacle courses, and coming up with other creative ways to be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day, three days a week. 
The current challenge consists of three four-week periods beginning Feb. 2, March 2 and March 30. Kids sign up at their schools, play every day, and then turn in completed activity logs for prizes like reflective gear, stopwatches and other useful items. Students who turn in three consecutive logs during the challenge will be entered into a drawing for $300 sports packages that can be used to buy equipment or lessons that promote physical activity.
Healthy Futures also gives cash awards to 12 schools each Challenge period, based on the highest percentage of participation for their school’s population. Prizes range from $200 to $600 and the money can be spent on physical fitness gear or educational materials. A lottery will award an additional three schools with $200 awards.
Healthy Futures is the signature program of the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. It has support from many partners, including the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2014-01</hide>January 2014 ‎(2)
1/28/2014 10:01 AM

Ski 4 Kids gets children outside to play for the day, but it also helps get them out on the trails all year long.
Play every Day Blog
What do you get when you invite every kid in the city to a snow-laden playground of obstacle courses, ski races, skijoring, a mock biathlon, and acres of room to play? A fantastic mass start, limitless fun, and enough funds to get kids on skis all winter. 
This year’s Ski 4 Kids Day takes place Saturday, Feb. 8, at Kincaid Park. Kids from 1 to 14 years old can participate, and their parents can join them. The event is free, but donations are accepted and appreciated.
The event promotes fitness and raises funds for the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Ski Outreach Program, a community-wide outreach effort to get ski equipment and instructors to schools and youth organizations.
The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage supports the program through grants funded through the Ski 4 Kids event, and it now runs a new NSAA Ski 4 School-kids Program to help provide ski coaching for local elementary schools.
To join the party, register online , download a mail-in registration online and send it in, or show up from 9 to 11 a.m. on Feb. 8, the day of the event.
Coming soon: Play Every Day with the Olympic Games
The Olympic Games inspire hope and resilience. They celebrate hard work and diversity. They champion commitment and camaraderie.
Every week during this winter's Games from Feb. 7 to 23, Play Every Day will look at the Olympic stories that ignite our kids’ bodies, hearts and minds.
Just looking at the array of games sparks the imagination, with 12 new winter sports added to the mix this year, and that’s what Play Every Day is all about – supporting kids and families in getting physically active 60 minutes every day, whether through organized sports, outings with dogs, the creation of new tag games, or just going solo.
Where there’s a will, there’s a new way to play.

1/7/2014 10:03 AM

Log sheets like this provide a means for tracking progress when resolving to play every day..  
Play every Day Blog
New Year’s resolutions range from the simple to the extraordinary, from the promise to shovel the driveway after every snowfall to the vow to travel the world. But getting fit remains one of the most popular and enduring resolutions.
The benefits of physical activity extend far beyond the act itself. Children who get an hour of activity every day do better in school and are more confident, and the habit of physical activity shows positive results throughout the lifespan.
Whether a first-grade runner training for the mile or an Olympic skier gearing up for a world cup race, the path to success starts with realistic, concrete plans and a system for monitoring progress.
The Healthy Futures Challenge incorporates these core concepts. The program encourages the habit of fitness in Alaska children by engaging schools and students in a schedule of physical activity tracked through log sheets that kids turn in for acknowledgement and prizes.
The program allows plenty of room for play. The form of activity can vary from dance and team sports to hiking and family pool time. Incorporating joy and passion make a difference. San Francisco woman Karen Cheng taught herself to dance by committing 5 minutes a day to practicing.
She created a time-lapse video of her progress through the year and recently talked about how to keep a resolution in a Washington Post blog, emphasizing the importance of setting a doable goal and schedule.  Instead of resolving to lose weight, Cheng said, a person should promise to do something physically active every day for a set amount of time, and then allow wiggle room for play.
She learned everything from juggling to building a design career using this strategy. “You have to be willing to try many things,” she said in the article. “When you find something you’re truly passionate about, it will prioritize itself.”
In other words, resolve to get outside (and/or inside) to play every day and the rewards will take care of themselves.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2013-12</hide>December 2013 ‎(4)
12/17/2013 11:52 AM

Find elementary schools participating in the 2014 Spring Healthy Futures Challenge here.
Play every Day Blog
Everyone wins with the Healthy Futures Challenge. Kids get prizes that inspire the joy of movement. Teachers get classrooms full of students more focused on their work. Parents get the satisfaction of watching their children grow stronger and more motivated about school and health.
And schools get a sense of community built around physical activity.
Involvement in the Challenge offers other rewards, too. Healthy Futures, a nonprofit group dedicated to empowering Alaska’s youth to build the habit of daily physical activity, gives grand prizes to students and awards to schools.
This fall’s Challenge yielded awards of $600, $400 and $200 to the top three schools in each of four tiers based on school population. It also gave  lottery awards of $200 to three schools with student participation of 20 percent or higher. The awards must be spent on equipment or materials that promote physical activity. Teachers at Bowman Elementary in Anchorage bought helmets for ice skating after getting an award for the 2013 Spring Challenge, for example.
The 2013 Fall Challenge engaged 15,795 students in physical activity. Four students who participated in all three months of the Fall Challenge won $300 sports packages toward the purchase of equipment or lessons, and 15 schools earned $200 to $600 awards. Here is a list of the winning schools:
Tier 1 (Schools with more than 400 students)
1st: Bowman (Anchorage School District)
2nd: Ravenwood (Anchorage)
3rd: Bear Valley (Anchorage)
Tier 2 (201-400 students)
1st: Huffman (Anchorage)
2nd: Campbell (Anchorage)
3rd: Machetanz (Mat-Su Borough School District)
Tier 3: (41-200 students)
1st: Girdwood (Anchorage)
2nd: Our Lady Of The Valley (Private Mat-Su school)
3rd: Aniguiin (Bering Strait School District)
Tier 4: (40 or fewer students)
1st: Eagle Community (Alaska Gateway School District)
2nd: Koliganek (Southwest Region School District)
3rd: Innoko River (Iditarod Area School District)
Lottery Award Schools
Willow (Mat-Su)
Cantwell (Denali Borough School District)
Polaris (Anchorage School District)
Check out the list of participating schools to find out how elementary students from throughout Alaska can join the challenge.
12/13/2013 12:04 PM

The first 150 schools that sign up get prizes for students who participate.
Congratulations to the first 150 schools that signed up for the Spring Challenge on the Healthy Futures website. The spring Challenge begins the first week of February, 2014.
The program is still accepting school registrations on a waiting list while looking to the community for additional funding. The registration period ends Dec. 19.
15,794 Alaska school kids committed to being physically active this fall, and followed through.
All of those elementary school kids in 143 schools across the state took part in the statewide Fall Healthy Futures Challenge.
Check out the list of participating schools to find out how elementary students from throughout Alaska can join the challenge. Students participate for free and win incentives for being active. Schools can win, too, through grants given to schools with the highest participation.
Current funding allows the program to give the first 150 schools a “Get out and Play, Every Day” banner and incentive prizes for participating students. After 150 schools sign up, additional schools will be added to a waiting list pending additional funding.
Healthy Futures, the signature program of the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, became a partner with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Play Every Day campaign in fall 2011. That spring, 36 schools signed up and about 1,300 children completed the Challenge.
Look where the Challenge is today:
  • This fall, 143 elementary schools and 30 school districts across Alaska participated.
  • A record 15,794 Alaska children were physically active and logged that activity.
  • One out of five Alaska elementary school students participated in the Fall Healthy Futures Challenge.
  • One out of three Anchorage elementary school students participated in the Fall Challenge.
Here are the details about the Healthy Futures Challenge for spring 2014.
  • Who:
    All Alaska elementary school children, kindergarten through sixth grade
  • What:
    Students keep logs of their physical activity outside gym class. Each month, students submit logs to a school staff member who record them on a simple electronic database. Healthy Futures mails incentives to the school for distribution at no cost to the teachers or staff.
  • When:
    Healthy Futures Physical Activity Challenge Period — February, March, April 2014
  • Where:
    Alaska schools, with the help of Healthy Futures, the Department of Health and Social Services, school staff and parents.
  • How:
    Sign up at 

12/6/2013 12:05 PM

The first 150 schools that sign up get prizes for students who participate.
15,794 kids.
That’s how many children in Alaska committed to being physically active this fall, and followed through.
All of those elementary school kids in 143 schools across the state took part in the statewide Healthy Futures Challenge this fall.
An anticipated record number of participants will take part in the spring Challenge that kicks off in February.
Elementary schools can sign up for the Spring Challenge on the Healthy Futures website now through 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20. Students participate for free and win incentives for being active. Schools can win, too, through grants given to schools with the highest participation.
Current funding allows the program to give the first 150 schools a “Get out and Play, Every Day” banner and incentive prizes for participating students. After 150 schools sign up, additional schools will be added to a waiting list pending additional funding.
Healthy Futures, the signature program of the nonprofit Alaska Sports Hall of Fame, became a partner with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Play Every Day campaign in fall 2011. That spring, 36 schools signed up and about 1,300 children completed the Challenge.
Look where the Challenge is today:
  • This fall, 143 elementary schools and 30 school districts across Alaska participated.
  • A record 15,794 Alaska children were physically active and logged that activity.
  • One out of five Alaska elementary school students participated in the Fall Healthy Futures Challenge.
  • One out of three Anchorage elementary school students participated in the Fall Challenge.
Here are the details about the Healthy Futures Challenge for spring 2014.
  • Who:
    All Alaska elementary school children, kindergarten through sixth grade
  • What:
    Students keep logs of their physical activity outside gym class. Each month, students submit logs to a school staff member who record them on a simple electronic database. Healthy Futures mails incentives to the school for distribution at no cost to the teachers or staff.
  • When:
    Healthy Futures Physical Activity Challenge Period — February, March, April 2014
  • Where:
    Alaska schools, with the help of Healthy Futures, the Department of Health and Social Services, school staff and parents.
  • How:
    Sign up at 

12/3/2013 12:06 PM


Getting outside in the winter starts with preparation, ends with fun.


Sitting on a couch with a book sounds cozy. Playing board games with visitors sounds fun. Sipping hot cocoa and watching movies at home sounds relaxing.


Going outside on a wintery day to shovel snow, walk the dogs, or play in the park may sound in comparison like work – especially to kids – but once they push through the first few minutes, the first hump of snow, the first barrage of snowballs, the joy of movement and natural light (or dark) takes hold.
Part of the motivation puzzle involves preparation. Kids need the right gear for the weather, a place to put it, and a plan for putting it on. Every list oftips to stay safe outdoors talks about wearing thinner layers against the skin, heavier layers over the top; the trick is to remove layers when heating up and sweating, adding them when slowing down and chilling. The idea is to keep the body relatively dry while insulating for heat.  
With that in mind, here are some quick notes for getting families up, out and safely into Play Every Day:
  • Drink plenty of fluids all day. Hydration helps keep body temperature regulated.
  • Wear the right clothes for the weather.
  • Wear or carry a hat or neck gaiter. Covering and uncovering the head and neck can help regulate body temperature and protect against hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Wear or carry gloves or mittens, and wool or synthetic socks. Again, this critical gear can protect against hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Wear reflective clothing or gear, and carry a headlamp or flashlight.
  • Carry a waist or back pack to hold everything when not wearing or using it.
  • Play in the yard, in the woods, on the trails, but stay clear of snow berms.
  • Head into the wind on the way out so it’s at your back on the return. 
  • And before heading out the door, try warming up to stay warm:
    o Put clothes in a dryer before putting them on.
    o Do jumping jacks or other warm-ups right before going out. 
    o Use hand and/or feet warmers.
    o Cover your face.
    o Double up on gloves.
Kids of all ages forget how much they love playing outdoors in the snow, wind, and cold, but it only takes a few minutes to warm up to the joy of building forts, climbing sledding hills, gliding on skis, and catching snowflakes while catching a misty breath.  


collapse Published Month : <hide>2013-11</hide>November 2013 ‎(4)
11/20/2013 12:07 PM

By foot, by snowshoe, by ski, by wheels: A feast of winter fun runs, activities to celebrate the season.
Tis the season for snow, ice, wind, and a bevy of fun runs that will warm the bodies, brains and holidays of families and the littlest elves.
The Skinny Raven Turkey Trotgives kids of all ages a chance to put the burners on before feasting on holiday meals. The midmorning run on the Anchorage Park Strip takes place on Thanksgiving, November 28, with a one-lap 2.5K loop for kids 10 and under, plus a 5K run for kids of all-ages.
Winners in each age class will win a pie, and proceeds from the registration fees will benefit the Team Alaska Track Club and The Food Bank of Alaska. Food donations will also be accepted.
Other kid-friendly activities include the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis 5Kon Saturday, December 14, at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The event starts with a costume contest at 10 a.m. and warm-ups at 10:15. Children 10 years and younger can run with the elves at 10:55 a.m., or go with the rest of the racers at 11:15 a.m. Santa will make an appearance, and there will be face painting, a magician, and much more.
Joggers in Fairbanks can bring in the New Year by starting a 3-miler at 11:30 p.m. in 2013, and rolling into 2014 as they cross the finish line. Check out Running Club North for a list of fun and competitive outdoor activities in the Fairbanks area, many of them free.
For statewide events, go to the Runners Calendar for a list of triathlons, snowshoe romps, fun runs, foot races and other outdoor activities. 

11/13/2013 12:08 PM

Alaska skateboarder Preston Pollard gets airborne when he plays outside. Photo credit: Brian Adams.
Here, Alaska-born skaterPreston Pollard leans back in mid-air over a snowy creek on his skateboard.
The magazine caption reads, “The iceman cometh. Preston Pollard gets frozen forever.”
This classic skateboard trick with an Alaska twist captures the life Pollard always dreamed of landing.  Born and raised in Alaska, the 25-year-old athlete now resides in Los Angeles, where he makes a living riding boards and doing ads, modeling, television work and motivational speaking. When talking to school kids, he delivers a simple but heartfelt message: Make good, healthy choices, and never give up on dreams.
As an elementary school student in Alaska, Pollard couldn’t wait for recess so he could play tag with his friends. He got involved in basketball, hockey and soccer, too, but once he hopped on a skateboard after school one day, he never looked back.
He enjoyed team sports and snowboarding, but skating really resonated with him, “because it was something different,” he said. “I felt like I didn't have a coach to tell me what to do, or what time to show up. I felt free, and skateboarding was just a big family.”
He skated wherever he found bare pavement, and his parents drove him to skateboard parks when they could. He dreamt then of becoming a sponsored skateboarder – and his dream came true. 
Pollard shares his story with kids because he believes being healthy, working hard, and having energy and focus helps dreams come true.
Getting and staying active is the key. If you are unsure about what to do or how to get motivated, “start small,” he said. “Go outside and walk, or ride your bike, build a fort or an Igloo. Instead of going for fast food, try eating something more light. Try drinking more water.”
Whatever the dream, eating healthy food, getting enough sleep andplaying every day can help get you there. 

11/12/2013 12:09 PM

Whether filming action or climbing walls, Gladys Wood students play every day.
The Healthy Futures Challengeis taking off at so many elementary schools that the buzz to sign up and participate is now coming from the kids themselves.
Exhibit A: Check out this new commercial filmed by the Student Council at Gladys Wood Elementary School in Anchorage.
Gladys Wood is one of more than 150 Alaska elementary schools that signed up to participate in this fall’s Healthy Futures Challenge to get kids physically active and filling out activity logs for prizes.
This is Gladys Wood’s first time participating, and the students wanted to start off with a great effort. That’s where the commercial comes in.
“We really wanted to get the word out and get kids involved in the program,” said Wendy Zorea, student council advisor and fifth grade teacher.
They didn’t have a big production plan (they filmed it in one afternoon in September). They didn’t have an elaborate film crew (they used the talents and late-night touch-ups of Ms. Zorea). But they didn’t need any of that because they had enthusiasm and some creative tricks in mind. Be sure to watch for special effects and commercial credits that look straight out of Hollywood.
The kids came up with the activities to shoot, Ms. Zorea said. “We went in the gym. We went outside,” she said. “We just had fun with it.”
When they were all finished, the Student Council aired their commercial during the morning announcements. The school loved it.
So far this fall, almost 100 students from Gladys Wood have participated in the Healthy Futures Challenge. That’s what you get from a place with a ton of school spirit.
Thank you, Gladys Wood, for supporting the Play Every Day campaign and the Healthy Futures Challenge. We couldn’t do it without you. 

11/5/2013 12:10 PM

Daily play can help prevent diabetes.
Photo courtesy of NANANordic.
Walk up the stairs. Snack on carrot sticks instead of chips.Play Every Day before settling in for the night. Small daily changes like these can help control weight and prevent diabetes in children.
Just a few decades ago, health care providers called Type 2 diabetes “adult-onset diabetes” because it only appeared in adults, mostly in middle age. Not anymore. The incidence ofType 2 diabetes in children and adolescents has increased significantly. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has predicted that one in three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in her or his lifetime.
How can we turn the tide?  Healthy eating and active living.
What can families do? Make manageable changes for good health. Cut down on screen time. Use smaller plates when you eat. Drink water instead of soda. Do errands on foot when possible. Sleep enough to feel rested. Pile on the vegetables. Join your children when they jump, run, ski, and play as part of the Healthy Futures Challenge.
The list can go on, and every small step leads to a healthier family.

collapse Published Month : <hide>2013-10</hide>October 2013 ‎(5)
10/29/2013 12:10 PM

Kikkan Randall stars in several PSA's encouraging kids to run, roll, glide, Play Every Day their way.
One second she’s riding a unicycle, the next she’s gliding on a pair of roller-skis.
Olympic cross-country skier Kikkan Randall is a fan of all types of activities.
This fall, she’s featured in two public service announcements motivating Alaska kids to pick an activity they like and do it during the Healthy Futures Challenge. The PSAs were made in partnership with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Healthy Futures and the United Way of Anchorage. You can view the PSAs here, here, and on your TV at home.
More than 150 elementary schools across Alaska have signed up for the physical activity challenge that started in September and concludes at the end of November. Participation numbers have broken records just a month into the three-month challenge. So far, 152 elementary schools across Alaska have signed up to participate, and 137 of them have turned in participation numbers. More than 12,100 children have completed at least one month of the challenge. That’s one out of six elementary school students across Alaska being physically active and tracking that activity each week!
Kids need to be active at least three days a week for four weeks in a row to successfully complete one month of the challenge and receive a cool prize that promotes activity. If they continue to be active all fall, they can complete all three months of the challenge, get three prizes and be entered for a grand-prize sports package of their choice.
The health department’s Play Every Day campaign partners with Healthy Futures to help Alaska children get closer to the national recommendation of 60 minutes of physical activity every day for good health.
It’s not too late to sign up your child for the Challenge. Watch for anactivity log to come home from school with your children, or talk to their primary, PE or health teacher to learn more.

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