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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

County Extension presents program

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nichole Harms, nutrition program associate with the Oregon County University of Missouri Extension office, goes to all the schools in Oregon County to teach students how to lead healthy lives. Photo by Emily McIntosh
Temptations are everywhere for children. Television or exercise? Candy or fruits and vegetables? Fast food or eat at home with the family? Children have a vast amount of decisions to make that will either make them live a healthy life into adulthood or struggle with weight control and all the medical side effect associated with obesity. To combat the possibility of children growing up to become unhealthy adults Nichole Harms, nutrition program associate with the Oregon County University of Missouri Extension office, stops by all the schools in the county every week. Every day at one of the schools she teaches children in pre-K through high school valuable lessons to stay fit and healthy.

April 15, Harms visited several elementary classes at Koshkonong School.

"Does anyone remember what we talked about last time?" Harms asked.

There was an almost immediate response. "Germs," the students said.

"And how did we say we get rid of them?" Harms asked.

"Wash your hands," they said.

"Yeah. Wash your hands for how many seconds?" she asked.

"Twenty-six seconds," they said.

"When are the most important times to wash your hands?" Harms asked.

"When you get off the bus and when you go to your house," one student said.

"Yes," Harms said. "Great job. Very important time."

"After we play with animals," another student said.

"Yes, after we play with animals," Harms said.

"Before we eat or cook," another student said.

"Very good, before handling any food," Harms said.

Apparently, these students have learned a lot of valuable information.

The students new lesson was on nutrition. "We're going to talk about MyPyramid and why we eat," Harms said.

"Why do you think we eat?" Harms asked.

"To survive," one student said.

"To survive," Harms said. "You know, your body is very similar to a vehicle. What would be your motor?"

"Our heart," a student said.

"Our heart, and it needs fuel, doesn't it?" Harms said. "So, we need our motor to run, to get from point A to point B. So, you need food to fuel that heart."

Throughout the rest of that class, Harms and the students discussed other reasons why they eat and what certains foods do to their bodies. Carbohydrates, for example, provide the body with energy.

Harms also taught the students about advertising and how restaurants and food companies use advertising to get people to eat food that may not be healthy for them.

The students also played a game where they match certain foods to what category they were under such as fat and protein. A small exercise routine that the student had to perform went along with each pairing.

Harms said, after one of her classes, oftentimes it is difficult for children to make the right choices about what to eat. "There are so many choices," Harms said.

Harms suggests that parents, in conjunction with the lessons their children learn at school, should reinforce what their children learn by applying what they learn at home.

Harms said she gets positive feedback from students. "They want to know how to stay in control of their bodies," Harms said.

She pointed out a fifth grade declaration of independence project where the students created their own declaration of independence. A part of the declaration reads, "We have been denied snacks. We appeal to the lunch ladies to offer healthier choices at lunch."

"The kids want healthier choices. They do. They like healthier food. Anytime I've ever brought vegetables to the classroom, the kids have eaten them with no problem," Harms said.

"Hopefully, we'll be building healthier lives (through the program) while they (the students) are young and build healthier families in the future," Harms said.

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