I’d like you to meet Mario. He’s the reason I started caring about healthy school parties. I started a journey into the deep, sticky world of school wellness policy because of him. Big P, you are worth it.
I live in a school district with a wellness policy. It exists – however it’s strength can only be measured by it’s active implementation. So here’s an example to show you how it’s being implemented. My building principal read it for the first time after it had already been in existence for six years. (Thanks to LiveWell Colorado for helping me locate this policy!) This isn’t to slam my school district. This is to illustrate that a well written document can’t improve student health if it’s only a piece of paper. This year I lucked out with a classroom teacher who is dedicated to student wellness. She initiated a classroom party concept that didn’t focus on food, especially junk food. (Can I get three cheers for Mrs. H! Hip, Hip, Hooooray!)
Here is the line up of activities for a Healthy Bones Halloween party. We began in a large group and talked with an MD about healthy bones. The students took turns asking questions about bones and a few random questions about fixing cars. Hilarious. He happily advised the kids to play outside A LOT and eat foods with calcium. You could do the same thing with an orthopedic surgeon or chiropractor.
Following the Dr Bones Q & A, we split into table groups (5-6 kids) and rotated through the following stations:
The students spent about 7 minutes at each station. We finished with a guitar sing-along to Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes and the snacks. I didn’t get to snap any pictures of our plethora of banana ghosts. There were two parents who didn’t get on the email list and showed up with these potassium-packed babies. I could have kissed them for not bringing candy.
However, some parents sent candy or came to the party with bags of candy to share. Thankfully, the candy went home in backpacks where parents can decide what to do with it. I admit that I spent a wasted 5 minutes being annoyed at the Candy Parents. This time was wasted because our school doesn’t have a classroom food policy guiding parents. Candy Parents assume that refined sugar is the expectation and so they follow suit. I also realized that these Candy Parents just wanted to contribute to the party.
Classroom food doesn’t just refer to the exclusion of unhealthy foods. It also refers to the life-threatening allergies to otherwise healthy foods. The biggest red flag was when a sweet little witch looked up at me and said, “I’m allergic to nuts,” while holding her parfait. I panicked. After a string of questions into the ingredient list of the granola, I breathed easy and no one went into anaphylactic shock. But that situation could have ended dramatically different. I ended the day with more resolve to get a classroom food policy at my school.
Did you experience any healthy success in classroom parties? Need any more details on the games or centers? Thanks for caring about healthy school environments. You Rock.