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Play 60 Helps School Get in the [Healthy] Game


Football season is over — but the National Football League’s Fuel Up to Play 60 program is continuing to help students get healthy at one Tennessee elementary school. Leader Liz-Ann Payant, the school nurse at Crosswind Elementary in Collierville, Tenn., tells the Inside Track that she and her colleagues are using Play 60 to motivate students, families and faculty to make healthier food choices and be more physically active.

As part of the program, a group of about 40 to 50 students in third to fifth grade meet before school starts on Thursday mornings to learn about leading healthy lifestyles. Initially, the students learned about the importance of eating a healthy breakfast, Payant says, adding that the students made a DVD about breakfast that was presented to all students during their physical education class.

“We worked with the students to research why breakfast is important for good health, as well as academic success,” she tells us via email. “They learned that behavior and attitude are affected by what we eat or do not eat as well.”

The school expanded its educational efforts after receiving a grant from Play 60. The grant allowed the school to purchase a smoothie machine, and smoothies have been used as a healthy alternative for classroom parties, Payant says. Smoothies also are available at lunch time.

The grant money also allowed Payant to buy laminated placemats with the MyPlate nutrition logo on it, which helps explain to students what a healthy meal should look like.

Building leadership skills is one of the hallmarks of the school’s efforts, Payant says. Students who take part in the program conduct research on good nutrition, and write announcements about their findings that they then deliver over the school’s intercom. “This also gives us the chance to teach the rest of the student population what we are learning,” Payant says.

In addition, the school held a poster contest asking students to promote nutrition tips. Seventy-five students submitted entries, which were displayed in the gym for students and faculty to view. Winners received prizes donated by local business, as well as Play 60 swag.

“Another thing we have done this past year to promote healthy eating is to give students little plastic feet they can collect and place on a chain when they have tried a new nutritious food, read a food label or drank six glasses of water a day,” Payant says.  “The parents were required to write a note sharing what the child has eaten. The students could write a list of the food labels they had read. By having the parents write the note it promoted family discussion about nutrition.” 

Payant says “hundreds” of parents have written notes to her sharing the healthy foods their children are trying and how their families have benefited from nutrition discussions.

Click here to connect with Liz-Ann Payant.