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Published on October 19, 2011

Valley West Brings Foodplay to Local Schools

October 19, 2011 

You’ve probably read about it in the newspapers and seen it on the news: in the United States, the number of obese children and teens has continued to rise over the past two decades. To help address the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, Valley West Community Wellness is bringing FOODPLAY to nine local schools in the community.   

FOODPLAY empowers children with the skills they need to take charge of growing up healthy and fit. Valley West is proud to bring FOODPLAY to the following schools: Emily G. Johns School, Centennial Elementary School, and P.H. Miller Elementary School in Plano; Woodbury Elementary School, Lynn G. Haskin, Herman Dummer School and Prairie View Elementary School in Sandwich; Hinckley-Big Rock Elementary in Hinckley-Big Rock; and J.R. Woods Elementary School in Somonauk. 

Childhood obesity is a public health crisis in the United States, and in Illinois, more than 35% of children ages 10-17 are obese according to the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. Illinois has the 10th highest percentage of overweight and obese children in the United States. To help combat this growing statistic, Valley West began teaching in local schools in 2007.

“Our goal is to empower children and young adults with the knowledge and self-confidence to make healthy choices now and throughout their lives,” says Beckie Frieders, community wellness educator and a certified health education specialist. “We work with school staff to meet learning objectives related to individual and community wellness in the Illinois State Learning Standards. FOODPLAY is a great way to reinforce the messages we’ve been teaching for the past few years, and we’re glad to be able to bring this national, award-winning show to the community.” 

FOODPLAY is a theatrical show promoting healthy eating and exercise habits, using a cast of colorful characters, fantastic feats of juggling, motivating messages, music, magic and fun. 

“We have to fight fire with fire,” says FOODPLAY creator and executive director, Barbara Storper, MS, RD. A leader in children’s nutrition, Storper has reached over three million children at schools across the country with FOODPLAY, using the power of live theatre to make nutrition come alive. “We need to use the same techniques advertisers use in order to get kids excited about healthy foods and healthy practices,” says Storper. “And schools are the perfect setting to model healthy behaviors and educate students on how to make their choices healthy ones. Once kids get the facts, they become the most effective health advocates, bring the message back home.”

In addition to nutrition education, Valley West Community Wellness provides local schools with a variety of free on-site programs taught by community wellness educators including poison prevention, hand washing, dental health and puberty education. All programs are specifically tailored to each grade level to meet the needs and interests of every age group. 

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