Students from Cherry Creek Elementary (CCE) and Murray Lake Elementary (MLE) brought in candy following their Halloween collection to be donated to troops serving overseas. The collection was an extension of the Lowell Wellness Camp which has held its program at both schools.
Teaching a Healthy Lifestyle
Lowell Wellness Camp stems from a LoWellness Health Initiative published in 2016. The pilot program debuted at CCE last fall and took it’s second year to MLE this year, with a focus on “Eating Better, Moving More and Smiling Often” according to Jodie Seese who is the Lowell Community Wellness liaison working with Grand Valley State University (GVSU). Together with graduate students from GVSU’s Public Health program, evidence based curriculum as been designed with students in grades 3-5.
Students are taught how to make better choices when it comes to eating, seeking food, and providing examples of better options, which provide nutrients rather than sugar and empty calories. Food labels are compared and whole foods versus processed foods are studied. During camp, healthy snacks were taste tested as well.
When discussing “moving more”, safety when riding a bike or traveling in a car are topics of importance. And finally, “smiling more” is a great way for students to learn to help others through kindness which in turn will make themselves feel better.
GVSU students serve as Camp Coaches at Wellness Camp. These students are typically seen as a good, older role model and mentor without seeming like just another adult or teacher trying to explain things. Brian Scherf is a Master of Public Health Candidate at GVSU set to graduate in April of next year. He was a coach during the first two semesters of Wellness Camp. “I’ve always been interested in health. I’ve found it frustrating that there is so much disinformation about how to live healthy that is being communicated by people and companies who just care about making money.” says Scherf. He was approached last spring to take on the role as Camp Coordinator and Curriculum Developer, replacing graduating Staci O’Brien. Scherf spent this past summer updating the curriculum and activities based on what worked during the first two installments of the camp. “Public Health is a perfect fit for me because I want to make positive changes in enhancing someone’s health literacy and helping them develop the tools necessary to live a happy and healthy life.”
Donating Candy to Troops
Students at CCE and MLE were asked to bring in extra, or all, of their Halloween candy even if they didn’t participate in Wellness Camp. According to Scherf, “Living healthy doesn’t have to be an overnight overhaul. Making small adjustments throughout time can go a long way.” The hope was to remove the temptation for students to overdo in the treat department and get in the spirit of giving as the holiday season approaches. This also fits the “smile often” aspect students learned during Wellness Camp.
Over 100 pounds of candy was collected at both schools, where both parents and students had a positive outlook on the request. The haul will be donated to Soldiers’ Angels which participates in Treats for Troops. The candy will be packaged and shipped to soldiers serving overseas. Both Seese and Scherf look at this as a win-win. The lure of eating handfuls of candy is taken away from students, but in the process they can feel good about helping someone else.
LoWellness Promotes a Healthy Community
A variety of programs throughout the community are hosted or sponsored by LoWellness. Wellness Camp was able teach students after school thanks to the Lowell Area Community Fund and in-kind contributions from the GVSU Public Health program. Future camps are currently in discussion along with additional programing. All offerings will be geared at making the Lowell community a healthier place to live through education on how little changes can make a big difference and easily become a lifestyle.