Kids dish advice after weeklong health fair

By: Megan Wood- The Press Tribune
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Eat your vegetables. Play outside. Don’t forget sunscreen. Sharing germs is not nice.

Cassidy Noonan isn’t a doctor but the advice she gives on health and how to stay healthy is wise beyond her 7 years.

As a wrap up to National Health Month and to kick off a healthy spring break, Granite Bay Montessori School hosted a group of health care professionals to speak to students about the importance of staying healthy.

The weeklong celebration ended with a health fair last Friday where students participated in games, watched a karate demonstration and enjoyed a healthy barbecue.

“It was great because each of the kids were interested in learning more about the things they hear on a regular basis and never question,” said school administrator and teacher Teri Brown. “Like why we wash our hands or brush our teeth to keep from getting sick and how the two are related.”

Brown said the older kids showed interest in diet and skincare while the younger students tended to ask more questions about teeth brushing and hand washing.

Questions like, “why I have to brush my teeth if they’re going to fall out anyways,” said second-grader Sydney Nelson.

Sutter Health dietician Sue Hazeghazam taught students how to choose healthy foods and limit the not-so-good for you foods based on the food pyramid. Color your plate was the challenge she gave to the students.

“Coloring your plate means lots of fruit and vegetables,” Noonan said. “Skittles don’t count.”

The most popular part of her presentation, Hazeghazam said, was the gelatinous yellow mass that represented what a pound of fat looks like.

“They were all pretty grossed out, but it shows how much harder your heart has to work when this is in your body,” Hazeghazam said. “It was a good lead in to how much exercise they should get.”

Hazeghazam told the kids that anything counts when it comes to exercise. Rollerskating, jump roping, bouncing on a trampoline, even dancing in their rooms classifies as exercise, which Noonan said makes the 60 minutes a day more fun when you know that playing counts.

On Friday, as the students ate their barbecue lunch, and participated in contests like a water balloon toss and three-legged race, Kaiser Permanente pediatrician Thao Doan passed out wet wipes to encourage frequent hand washings.

“My biggest thing is that hand washing is one small but very important part of staying healthy and maintaining a strong immune system,” Doan said.

According to Doan, the appropriate way to wash hands is with the warmest water a person can stand, plenty of soap and concentrating on the palms and backs of hands as well as between fingers.

“If you really want a thorough hand washing, sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to yourself twice as you wash,” Doan said. “If you really want to do a good job you have to stop and take your time, just like with anything else.”

To promote an active and healthy spring break, each child was given a goodie bag filled with sunscreen samples, band-aids, coupons for health care products and a frisbee to encourage the kids to play outside instead of video games.

“I’m going to go to the park and play basketball,” said sixth-grader Kristian Gagni. “But I’m still going to relax on the couch and play video games because your body needs that too.”