The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

Third graders practice fitness, learn nutrition


September 22, 2017

Brandon L. Summers

Third graders on stationary bicycles connected to blenders made healthy smoothies and learned how fitness and nutrition go hand-in-hand as part of Panhandle Public Health District's Kids Fitness & Nutrition Day at Legion Park Wednesday. Supervised by Cynthia Gill, UNL extension educator, students took turns to create the healthy snack.

Third graders from multiple school districts filled Legion Park and Cheyenne County Community Center Wednesday for Kids Fitness and Nutrition Day.

More than 250 students participated in the yearly event, Janelle Hansen, Panhandle Public Health District health educator, said.

The students from Sidney, Leyton, Bridgeport, Kimball, Creek Valley and other school districts were greeted by a variety of physical activity and nutrition stations.

"They're learning about how important it is to keep physically active and how fun it can be, and also about nutrition and portion sizes," Hansen said. "They're learning to read labels on foods according to serving size and measurements."

To show nutrition and fitness go hand-in-hand, one station on energy balance gave students a choice between a fun-size candy bar, stick of beef jerky and an apple for a snack. The students then had to run a certain number of laps to burn the calories from their snack choice.

Elsewhere, students on stationary bicycles pedaled to power a blender and make healthy smoothies.

"It gives them an idea of how strawberries and bananas and lowfat yogurt and orange juice mixed together can be delicious," Hansen said.

Kids benefit from learning about fitness and nutrition at an early age, Kiersten Richards, CCCC activities director, said.

"Not only are they learning about nutrition and labels and what goes into what, and how to choose a better snack, they're learning that being physical is okay and there's all sorts of ways to be physical and stay fit," Richards said. "Not necessarily skinny, but fit. Being healthy is very important to teach kids at a young age."

At the community center, physical activities included dodgeball and volleyball, jump ropes and hula hoops. At Legion Park, students practiced kickboxing and participated in SWAT team boot camp.

It's important to encourage students to engage in physical activity, Hansen said.

Brandon L. Summers

As part of Kids Fitness & Nutrition Day Wednesday, Tabi Prochazka, teaches third-graders some basic kickboxing techniques in Legion Park

"They have to be urged because of phones, ipads, electronic games. Kids do not move like they should," she said. "Physical activity and nutrition do go hand-in-hand."

The students, though, were receptive to the activities all day, Hansen said.

"I have not seen any kids today just sitting off to the side," she said. "All of them want to try to do it, and that's awesome."

Even their teachers benefit from being exposed to fitness.

"One teacher just shared today she started doing cross-fit because she's learned different exercises from this nutrition day," Hansen said. "Not only do the kids benefit, but the teachers, too."

Richards said hosting the students at the community center was a pleasure.

"We look forward to this day every year. It's a lot of fun. We get a few hundred kids every year. The kids are active and busy all day," she said. "It's something these kids look forward to all year."


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