By Abby Temple
The Emerson Health and Wellness team sat in our monthly meeting, envisioning the cupcake, candy and cookie filled weeks ahead of us. Holiday celebrations present a dilemma for a nutrition/health educator based in an elementary school—how can we encourage our students to make healthy choices while also recognizing the need for celebrations, for special treats, and for a fun ending to a difficult few months of work? How can we stray from labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” and instead, focus on moderation and “sometimes” foods? With these goals in mind, our team, composed of myself, my co-educator Ms. Paula, a second grade teacher, our P.E. teacher and one of our ELL teachers, came up with the idea of a “12 Days of Health” promotion for the school.
For the 12 days leading up to winter break, our students were given a challenge each day over the morning announcements. The challenges were as follows:
Day 1: One special treat for working so hard!
Day 2: Two push-ups!
Day 3: Three laps around the black top!
Day 4: Four glasses of water!
Day 5: Five minutes of stretching!
Day 6: Six toe-touches!
Day 7: Seven colors of food in your day!
Day 8: Eight squats!
Day 9: Nine high-knees!
Day 10: Ten jumping jacks!
Day 11: Eleven lunges!
Day 12: Twelve minutes of dancing!
For 12 days, Emerson’s morning announcements were dominated by the lovely singing voices of our Emerson staff. We took turns on the announcements each day, singing the challenge to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The kids especially loved hearing their P.E. teacher singing—it was quite a treat in itself. I was surprised how many students I actually saw participating in and excited about the challenges. Students stopped me in the hallway to show me their jumping jacks and lunges. I heard water described as “the most delicious drink ever!” On day twelve, our health challenge culminated in a 12 minute dance party with our first graders. I may have enjoyed the dancing even more than they did. Our super healthy Emerson students are on a great track to a healthy and fun winter break! Happy winter break, Emerson!