Students practice program for healthier lifestylesPublished 6:45pm Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Patrick Hamilton Elementary School is becoming home to some healthier kids this week as students and staff take part in a new program that promotes better eating and exercise habits.
The 2-1-5 Plan focuses on watching less than two hours of TV a day, getting at least one hour of exercise and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables. Monday kicked off the incentive.
Principal Heather Nash, who is participating along with teachers and administrative staff, said Wednesday’s efforts also coincided with International Walk to School Day, another program that encourages healthier lifestyles. More than 220 schools in 57 Michigan counties registered to participate in the event, including Patrick Hamilton Elementary.
“It’s (the 2-1-5 Plan) just for this week to see how everyone does,” Nash said Wednesday. “It’s a big change for the kids, but they’re all trying and doing great.”
The walk day is connected to Michigan’s Safe Routes 2 School program, which is administered by the Michigan Fitness Foundation and in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation. Federal funding grants, something Dowagiac Union Schools is trying to secure, helps districts improve infrastructures, such as sidewalks, crosswalks and school zone signs to make walking or biking to school a safer, healthier option.
While the sprinkling of rain may have put a damper on walking to school, Nash said some parents and their students participated that normally didn’t walk.
“We also started a walking club that began on Monday,” Nash said. “Students can choose to eat and then use the rest of their lunch hour to walk, and, depending on how far they go, there are prizes for them.”
Third-grader Andrew Kirschbaum said he’s taken the 2-1-5 Plan seriously.
“I watch less than an hour of TV a day, and I like to go outside and play with my friends for a long time,” Kirschbaum said.
Second-grader Taven Livingston agreed, saying if he watches TV, it’s a toss up between cartoons or the Discovery Channel.
“I like to watch Animal Planet, too,” Livingston said.
The two students also claimed the program has allowed them to eat more of their favorite fruits and veggies, such as broccoli, apples and celery. Kirschbaum said he’s tried to persuade other students to follow the plan, too.
“I tell them to eat more fruits and vegetables and play outside more,” Kirschbaum said. “They are healthier that way.”
Kirschbaum’s parents have involved him in a community soccer team, while Livingston’s parents have put him on a local football team. The students said, even with practice, games and warm-ups, they were participating in the program before they even knew it existed.
“My dad and I will go out and toss the football,” Livingston said. “I always try to play outside.”
Nash said the plan, coupled with the walking club and national health days, helps students and staff get on the road to healthier lifestyles.
“It’s not easy to change habits,” Nash said. “But we have to practice it, and this allows us to do that.”