By KATIE BORKOWSKI
BOONE – Sacred Heart students are learning to switch what they do, view and chew.
The school is participating in a 12-week program with Iowa State University and the Iowa 4-H Program called SWITCH (School Wellness Integration Targeting Children’s Health). This is an evidence-based obesity prevention program designed to help students adopt healthy lifestyles – both in school and at home.
SWITCH also gives schools a way to meet Iowa Department of Education requirements for school wellness.
The program is being led by Pat Kruse, who teaches pre-k through eighth grade PE, sixth grade science and seventh and eighth grade health at Sacred Heart.
“A parish member, Annette Brown, works for the Iowa State extension office and steered us towards this program,” said Kruse. “The 12-week program focuses on what students do, view and chew.”
SWITCH helps schools identify goals to enhance their educational system into a more wellness driven environment. Students are challenged to switch what they are doing through the messaging they learn during the classroom, lunchroom and PE modules.
According to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach website about SWITCH, “The goal of ‘do’ is to get youth and families moving more. Youth are to be active 60 minutes or more per day at a moderate or vigorous level, and the recommendation for adults is 30 minutes per day.”
“The goal of ‘view’ is for youth to cut down on the amount of time spent on electronic devices which often correlate with sedentary time,” noted the website. “Decreasing sedentary behavior can lead to youth being engaged in movement and being more physically active.”
Lastly, the goal of “chew” is to encourage youth “to try more fruits and vegetables and increase consumption. Eating more fruits and vegetables can be supported at school but also at home with incorporating produce in snacks and at mealtime,” explained the website.
The programming materials are presented to the students through three school settings – the classroom, activities in PE and the cafeteria.
Do, view, chew
At Sacred Heart, the students rotate through for four cycles of three weeks beginning with what they do, view and chew, Kruse explained.
“This is targeted for grades five and six, but the entire school receives tidbits here and there,” he said. “There are three target areas being brain breaks for the classroom, higher activity in PE and better food choices in the cafeteria.”
Every third week during lunch the entire school participates in a Try Day Friday where new foods are introduced.
One week on Try Day Friday, the students experienced featured items of mushrooms, jumbo white figs and medjool dates.
“The kids really bought into it,” said Kruse. “We charted the foods as to whether they tried it, liked it or loved it.”
Avery Chesnut, a fifth grader, liked all the new activities in PE. She learned that watching too much TV can be bad for you. She felt the SWITCH program motivates you to keep exercising.
Fifth grader Mora Nystrom liked being able to eat lots of food.
“Being active counts for a lot,” she said. “Keeping your body healthy is the best!
Different colored trinkets for a bracelet are handed out each week to the fourth and fifth graders based on their participation levels. Once a week in computer class they record their activity levels.
For more information about SWITCH and to learn how to enroll for the 2018-2019 school year, contact Ann Torbert, 4-H Youth Development Specialist at (319) 377-9839 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The program is laid out on the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach website at www.extension.iastate.edu/switch/.