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 to 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 http://database.healthyfuturesak.org.
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.
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.
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
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 over time.
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.
these added sugars?
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:
Corn syrup solids
Evaporated cane juice
Fruit juice concentrate
High-fructose corn syrup
Brown rice syrup
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
Why not choose
healthy drinks instead?
drinks come in bright packages with labels that claim all sorts of things — “loaded
with vitamins,” “hydrating,” “all natural flavors.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.”
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
grade class at Salcha, one of the smallest schools in the Fairbanks North Star
Borough School District, won by coupling playfulness with zeal.
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.
funny thing is that when we put it together, we did all three,” said
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.
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
Charter School from the Mat-Su Borough School District won second
place and Polaris K-12 from the Anchorage School District tied with Salcha
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 end 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.
Alaska 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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a quick rundown of a few family-friendly events throughout Alaska this October:
- 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, www.AEclubUAA.com
- It Ain’t Easy Hill Run: 5 miles flat, 11.3 miles hilly, 10 a.m. at Dog Mushers Hall, Farmers Loop in Fairbanks, www.runningclubnorth.org
- Readers on the Run: 5k walk/run, 11 a.m. John Trigg Ester Library Gazebo in Fairbanks
- 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, www.kmxt.org/run_the_rock/
- 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, www.runningclubnorth.org
- 2nd Annual Costume Run 5k: meet at 11 a.m. at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center, www.northpenrec.com
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