“This is actually pretty good!” he said, holding the small cup. Spinach-mango smoothie in hand, the fourth grader rejoined his "buddies" who were deep into a health discussion. With one more school day before spring break, the soccer players at Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy got a tasty and healthy start to their morning.
Even better than a morning smoothie, the Prieto students had their best practice of the year with the help of some enthusiastic volunteers from the Northwestern University Civic Education Project (CEP). This program recruits high school students from the Chicago area to participate in service-learning trips around the city. Through volunteering with underprivileged kids, these students come to understand themselves in the broader context of civic community, and get an opportunity to put that understanding into action. This is the third year that CEP has partnered with Urban Initiatives to give their volunteers a meaningful, engaging experience.
While Daley’s Urban Initiatives team reviewed its 5-4-3-2-1-Go! lesson after practice in the gym, the No Child Left Behind committee was down the hall having a health lesson for parents, with a healthy breakfast to start the day off right! As a Healthy Places school, Urban Initiatives has been working to provide workshops for parents on topics that can help them embody a healthier lifestyle.
The parent group identified diabetes awareness and prevention as a topic that they were interested in learning more about, as it is one of the leading health concerns in the community around Daley. Diabetes disproportionately affects minority groups. On average, Hispanics are 1.5 times as likely to have diabetes as Whites; African Americans are twice as likely. This article from the Office of Minority Health gives a clear outline of diabetes as a nation-wide epidemic. Lizette, the presenter from Alivio Medical Center, led an engaging discussion that gave an overview of why diabetes is a risk, described the symptoms and difficulties of living with diabetes, and explained how people can take proactive steps to change habits that can lead to diabetes.
Socioeconomic factors in communities where Urban Initiatives works often put residents at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Basic lifestyle changes including exercise and healthy eating can help manage weight and reduce the risk. It turns out that a good mantra for diabetes prevention sounds a lot like what our soccer players were shouting in unison just down the hallway:
5 servings of fruits and veggies!
4 servings of water!
3 servings of low-fat dairy!
2 hours or less of screen time!
1 hour or more of physical activity!
The lunch room at Daley Academy is usually a sea of students’ hunter green uniforms, but a different shade of green is popping up these days - salad green! When Daley received their HealthierUS Schools Challenge award, the Wellness Committee (which includes Urban Initiatives staff from the Healthy Places project) worked with the lunch room staff to bring a salad bar into the cafeteria, so students could practice making healthy food choices for themselves!
As the harvest season draws to a close, students at Fulton Elementary got to do a little harvesting of their own when Farmer Tim and Farmer Sydney pulled up to the playground in with their Truck Farm!
Students bundled up and gathered around the cheerful, painted truck. They stood on chairs so that they could get a clear view of all of the veggies growing in the truck bed while Farmers Tim and Sydney held a discussion about food. Why do people need to eat food? Where does food come from? What parts of plants do we eat?
This year, Urban Initiatives is proud to be the host organization for the Healthy Places project focusing in the New City Community!
We will work in 5 community schools (some who already have our Work to Play Program, and some new recruits) to rally around the CPS Wellness Policy and initiate some projects to enhance healthy school environments. Also, we will be working on a Healthy Places to Walk project that involves examining the quality of biking and walking.
Ultimately, our goal is to be ready to do the Go for the Gold! (also known as the HealthierUS Schools Challenge) application next spring, so that our schools can receive public celebration and a monetary honorarium to fund further health and wellness projects.
On a recent trip to the doctor's office, Maria, a fifth grade soccer player at Prieto Elementary, received some surprising news. Though many would prefer to avoid surprises in this particular setting, for Maria, it was nothing but positive. She recalled that her doctor was, "surprised because I used to weigh a lot when I was a little girl and they told me that I lost fifteen pounds." To make matters even better, she was also told that she now had a healthy BMI. When asked what her secret was, she responded with, "exercising and eating better at home and school."
After joining the Urban Initiatives team as a fourth grader, Maria quickly realized the benefits of adopting healthier habits. She recalls when her dad started cooking the healthy recipes which she received at practice; her family liked them so much that they "kept asking for more." When she wasn't at practice, Maria would go in her backyard to play soccer with her cousin and younger sister (both are now in the program as well). After last year's season ended, Maria knew that she "didn't want to quit soccer." She came back to the team as an assistant coach and continues to lead by example.
In this great article from Dr. Oz he highlights 5 foods for better health. As Dr. Oz puts it " changing your life isn’t as difficult as you may think." So why not take the challenge and incorporate these 5 foods into you diet. Click here to read.