Providence jump-starts healthy school program


Through its Community Health Needs Assessment process, Providence Health & Services – Oregon identified childhood and adolescent obesity as a major need across the state and began its “Healthier Kids, Together” initiative.

Encouraging healthy eating habits, exercise, mindfulness and mentoring were the foundations of the Clatsop County youth program, The Way to Wellville. Providence Health & Services awarded The Way to Wellville – Clatsop a $40,000 grant to hire a coordinator and bring “Clatsop Kids Go” to life in Clatsop County elementary schools. “Clatsop Kids Go” encourages students to develop healthy eating habits, behaviors, body image, emotional development and learning skills, such as growing their own food.

“We seek to partner with agencies and programs to help reach the unmet needs of the people we serve,” said Kendall Sawa, Providence Seaside Hospital CEO as he presented the award.
Sarah Brown, the coordinator for Clatsop Kids Go, works with third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students each week who could benefit from the program. They are selected by counselors and teachers. Her role is to be a positive, caring mentor in whole-body wellness in the students’ 12-week journey.

Each child receives a drawstring backpack filled with goodies to encourage healthy habits and behavior, such as a jump rope, water bottle, Frisbee and hula hoop. In addition, each has a binder with materials for a tool kit. They keep a log or “passport” of their activities, including how much water they drink, how many sodas, what kind of physical activities they participate in, and how long. They earn a Fitbit by keeping up their activities and passport.

Each session begins with a game: Kick the Can, Capture the Flag or something active to get the kids moving. Brown gives a nutrition lesson showing the kids portion sizes and how to balance grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables and fats, and how eating colorful foods helps acquire needed vitamins.

Brown says she doesn’t expect kids to change their habits in 12 weeks, but improving awareness and consciousness about nutrition and activities is a good start toward a healthy lifestyle.