Shelby Brawner, Extension Assistant/Grant Manager
MAKING STRIDES IN TEACHING HEALTHY LIVING
Emily Barton, Carter County Extension
With a new year, many of us have resolved to make healthier living choices. Stu- dents in Carter County 4-H clubs have been learning how small changes can make a big difference in their health as they participate in healthy living programming funded by the Wal-Mart Youth Voice: Youth Choice grant. Since September 2016, Mrs. Emily Barton and Ms. Melissa Shelton have been meeting with 6th grade students in Carter County schools to teach and promote health, nutrition, and fitness by blending the Power U Healthy curriculum from UT Extension Family and Consumer Science and the Choose Health: Food, Fun, and Fitness curriculum created by Cornell University for Extension staff.
So far this year, students have learned how to increase their physical activity and exercise to the 60 minutes needed per day, how to reduce the amount of sugar they consume from sodas and other sugary foods, and how to read a nutrition label to determine the correct serving size, calories, sugar and fats. Through simple, hands-on methods and games, students are analyzing and converting the measurements on the nutrition labels to representations that make sense to them. For example, 4 grams of sugar is about 1 teaspoon of sugar, and one tea- spoon of sugar is about the size of the tip of your thumb. These lessons are really hitting home for some students.
“I don’t carry around a teaspoon, but my thumb is always with me. I can think about that measurement before I choose to eat 24g of sugar or 6 thumb tips.” a 6th grader commented in one lesson.
They are reporting on how they are teaching their family members to cut back on sodas to reduce how much sugar they consume each day.
To finish out the school year, the students will be learning how to determine fats in the foods they eat, exploring how to make a healthy plate and be a “sneaky” eater of fruits and vegetables, and how water, whole grains, and fiber help your digestion through a hands-on exhibit. Over the spring and summer, Carter County 4-H will be hosting day-camps and partnering with local organizations to bring the healthy living curriculum to more students in Carter County. In these lessons, students will be learning to incorporate more physical activity into their day, to swap sugary and fatty foods and drinks for items with more nutrients such as fruits and vegetables, and how to incorporate all the food groups into meals through interactive food preparation, demonstrations, games, models, and exhibits.