FCS Teacher Takes on Obesity Epidemic

Article excerpt

Mayfield Middle School

MAYFIELD HEIGHTS * OH

Fighting the childhood obesity problem at Mayfield Middle School is an ongoing campaign. As a family and consumer sciences (FCS) teacher, I decided to go outside the box to teach students and their families how to cook healthy dishes, eat a balanced and nutritious diet, and exercise regularly. All students at Mayfield attend a 6-week exploratory Consumer Science class. Students learn about the food pyramid, search the internet for nutritious recipes, cook healthy recipes, write articles about wellness for their newsletter, Fun, Food, Fitness and Family Newsletter, and participate in an annual food and fitness night each year with their families.

Attending an Action for Healthy Kids Conference inspired me to start promoting good health at the school. The first step was to collaborate with the Food Service Director in writing a grant. The goals of the grant were: improve the quality of food served in the cafeterias at the middle school, and incorporate more nutrition into the Consumer Science classes. In addition, there would be a joint effort to promote wellness in the building. A $2,000 mini-grant, awarded by the Ohio Department of Education, was used to buy teaching aids and materials for the classroom.

The goals were achieved: food served in the cafeterias has improved, more nutrition concepts are taught in Consumer Science at all grade levels, recipes prepared in classes are now more nutritious and an annual event was introduced: Fun, Food, Fitness and Family Night.

The Fun, Food, Fitness and Family Night is held in the winter when families tend to be less physically active. Students and their families participate in wellness activities in a fun setting for 2 hours. Groups of families are given a color code and then they rotate through the building, spending 15-20 minutes at each station. The stations include:

* Health related activities supervised by health and physical education teachers in the lower gym

* Sports related activities (basketball, archery, volleyball, etc.) in the upper gym

* Yoga demonstrations and participation in the library

* Online visits to MyPyramid.gov and analyze their diets in the computer lab

* Chair massages in the therapy room

* Food and health-fair with exhibits, demonstrations, samples, door prizes, nutrition games (including "spinquest"), simple healthy recipes prepared by chefs (who are parents and community members), information and foods provided by local vendors and supermarkets, health professionals answering questions, and more in the cafeterias

A quarterly newsletter, edited by the FCS teacher, is sent home with all students in their Friday Folders (school bulletins, parent information and assignments, etc. …