Schools around the country are teaming up with FOODPLAY, an award winning theater show, to empower children with the skills they need to take charge of growing up healthy and fit. FOODPLAY will bring its cast of colorful characters, fantastic feats of juggling, motivationg messages, music, magic, and fun to the Hillsboro Elementary School at 9:15 a.m. Friday, Feb. 12 thanks to The Lunch Ladies.
While FOODPLAY makes good eating great fun, its messages are serious. So serious, in fact, that first lady Michelle Obama has launched the nation’s first childhood obesity task force, designed to tackle the rise in the number of overweight children. In the last 25 years, childhood obesity rates have doubled among elementary school children and tripled among teenagers, according to FOODPLAY.
One in three children are overweight, and less than 2 percent of the nation’s youth are meeting their daily nutritional requirements. Kids on average are drinking over 600 cans of soda and consuming more than 150 pounds of sugars a year, missing out on recommended levels of fruits, vegetables and whole grains needed for optimal health, FOODPLAY said.
During the performance, children follow the antics of Johnny Junkfood, whose dream is to become a national juggling star, but keeps dropping the balls. The problem is his poor eating habits. With the help of the “coach” of the National Junior Juggling Team and the audience of elementary school children, Johnny learns how to juggle the foods he eats to wind up with a balanced diet.
FOODPLAY introduces the USDA’s new MyPIate food guide, helping children learn to fill half their plates with a rainbow of colors from fruits and vegetables, choose foods from all five food groups, and cut down on soda and sweetened drinks. Children learn how to see through TV commercials, decipher food labels, and make choices that are good for their health and good for the health of the planet.
“We have to fight fire with fire,” says FOODPLAY creator and Executive Director Barbara Storper. A leader in children’s nutrition, Storper has reached over four million children at schools across the country with FOODPLAY, using the power of live theater 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, bringing the message back home.”
To extend the lessons throughout the year, schools receive a comprehensive Follow-Up Resource Kit, filled with hands-on nutrition education materials for teachers, parents, school food service, health staff, and students. Teachers receive activity guidebooks to help integrate nutrition into core subject areas and link cafeteria with classroom learning. And, students take home healthy snack cards to post on their fridge.
For more information, free snack recipes, and tips for kids and families: http://www.foodplay.com/.
Submitted by Jessica Jones of the Hillsboro City Schools.