Feeding Kids—One Step at a Time

This is a guest post by Hope Green. She is 9-years-old and in 4th grade. Her hobbies are DIY/crafting, Suzuki piano, song-writing, and writing fiction. 

The UNICEF Kid Power Band is technically a “fit bit” for kids. It’s a pedometer that tracks your steps, tells the time, and turns exercise into “lifesaving nutrition that UNICEF delivers to severely malnourished children around the world.” When you sync your band to your smartphone, it tells you where you are in your “mission” to feed undernourished kids, and how many  power points you have:

I love how the band is designed and how the app is designed. I sync my band every night to look at missions and how many packets I got in the day. Here’s what it looks like:

I like how when i forget to sync it some nights that when I sync it days later it syncs all the points I got from when I didn’t sync it days before.

If I could change anything with with the Kid Power Band I would make the battery last longer, so  I wouldn’t have to charge  so much. If I could change anything else with the Kid Power Band I’d  add to the watch for it to show how many kids you’ve fed. I love syncing the band and seeing how many points I got at the end of the day. I also like to get 10 to unlock missions and packets. Even though my legs hurt I’m eager to help kids in need.

I like how the app is designed that even if you have a small phone, you can download it and watch missions with special guests helping. Many celebrities like to help the children and UNICEF like Laura Marano, George Clooney, Madonna, Bridget Mendler, and Selena Gomez. Selena Gomez is the youngest UNICEF Ambassador.

Becoming healthy by walking, is for such a great cause. I also like that they go all the way to help kids in other countries just to save lives.

Reading & Riding—a Really Good Idea

The “Read & Ride” program in Ward Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina is so simple, it is simply brilliant. This NBC Today Show segment below frames it as a way for educators to solve the (classroom management) problem of “fidgety kids.” However, the power of reading while riding (on donated stationary bikes) goes well beyond addressing classroom management issues. It promotes “action-based learning” which feeds the body and the mind. No bikes? No problem. Schools around the country are using bouncy balls, standing desks, bungee cords—anything to provide a vehicle through which students can “expel energy,” as described in the video:

While the report links student participation in Read and Ride (at least three times per week) with increased rates in reading proficiency, the program has much deeper and broader implications for children (and adults). Increasing students’ physical movement during (and throughout) the school day addresses the serious challenges faced by children today: Rising rates of physical inactivity and obesity-related illnesses. In fact, several studies report that such cardiovascular activity increases brain function and has a direct positive effect on academic performance (see chapters 1 and 5 in Healthy Teens, Healthy Schools: How Media Literacy Education Can Renew Education in the United States).

What is there not to like about the Read and Ride program? If you use your stationary bike at home as a clothes hanger more than you use it as a piece of fitness equipment, consider donating it to a good cause. In fact, you can donate yours right now to a high needs school in South Carolina on Donorschoose.org

Afterall, there is a lot riding on the health of children in the United States.

Small Step for California, Giant Leap for School Cafeterias

The Center for Ecoliteracy has left an unprecedented mark in the movement for green schooling. Based in Berkley, California, this non-profit organization is spearheading the cause for a healthier youth. Their goal is to make schools and communities in the United States more ecoliterate, or able to understand how to create a more sustainable and enjoyable life by way of the natural systems in our environment. Among a few of the Center’s objectives for change are school gardens, school lunches, professional development seminars, school curricula, and consulting services. By promoting the consumption of fresh, local food, children are taught the countless benefits on their bodies, their communities, and the environment.

Generated in collaboration with CEL, “California Thursdays” was piloted on October 23, 2014. Fifteen California school districts came together in the determined preparation for this initiative, where fresh, locally grown foods are served out of participating school cafeterias on Thursdays. This once a week event is a small step toward the drive for major change in school lunch programs. Rather than shipping locally grown produce to other states for processing and packaging into microwavable meals, the leaders behind California Thursdays are promoting a healthier and more practical approach of farm to cafeteria table.

The Center for Ecoliteracy website offers a plethora of resources as a frontrunner for change. A wealth of knowledge, instructional tools and strategies, essays and books are available for teachers, school staff, community leaders, parents, and students. A fantastic planning framework is offered in Rethinking School Lunch, and includes a detailed map of key members and pathways to success in your school. Cooking with California Food in K-12 Schools is a cookbook and guide to menu planning comprised of recipes, preparation and presentation notes, as well as class instruction guidance for implementing change. Both of these resources are free and downloadable.

Though California catapulted the idea, the notion to rethink school lunches is not limited to one state. The Center for Ecoliteracy is a role model for other states to replicate, and there’s no better time than now.