Program promotes health options to students

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published November 8, 2011

HARPER WOODS — Beaumont Hospitals are teaming up with the Harper Woods School District to show students how to get a kick out of their vegetables.

Project Healthy Schools kicked off its program recently at Tyrone Elementary School. Representatives at Beaumont are conducting a weekly program to teach students how to make healthy choices with food and activity.

“The program is a series of 10 lessons that teaches sixth-grade students about heart-healthy lifestyles with hopes of reducing their future risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” Emily Hippler, Project Healthy Schools coordinator with Beaumont, said in an email. “It is brought to schools free of charge.”

Project Healthy Schools is already running or getting ready to launch in some other schools in Southeast Michigan, including in Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak and Utica.

During the kick-off event late last month at Tyrone, students watched four skits that included some of their fellow classmates and even the principal. They were asked to explain what healthy choice goal the skit represented.

“It really makes health education fun and it’s really hands-on, and kids really look forward to it and that makes a huge difference,” said Suzy Berschback, manager of community affairs and advocacy for Beaumont.

The skits emphasized a need to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into the kids’ diets; eat less fast foods and foods with high fat content; choose better beverages, such as low-fat milk and water; and to spend less time in front of computer, phone and gaming screens.

A fifth goal was to make sure to do 150 minutes of exercise weekly.

“To demonstrate that, we’re going to do a little dance,” Hippler said before turning on some music and getting the students up and moving.

The program will help students learn about the difference between fat and muscle, and show them how to increase muscle while losing fat, said Tom Spring of Beaumont.

It’s also helpful for parents because they, too, get a packet that will help them make improvements in meals and activity at home.

“They can follow along week by week,” Spring said.