With distractions like Snapchat®, Xbox®, and Netflix® at kids’ fingertips, it can be difficult to get them off the couch and out participating in healthy activities. It can be even more challenging to get kids engaged in learning about their health and why it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But making health fun can make a big difference in engaging young people and encouraging them to embrace the power of prevention.
Across the country, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are creating and investing in entertaining programs that make learning about health fun. From the classroom to the kitchen, kids are learning that health doesn’t have to be a bore, and that a healthy lifestyle can have lifelong benefits.
Classrooms in Tennessee and Arkansas are getting kids up out of their seats and onto their feet, hipping, hopping and jumping around for several minutes every day thanks to a program called GoNoodle®, made possible by investments from the Blue & You Foundation for a Heathier Arkansas and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation.
GoNoodle, which is available at no cost to elementary schools in Arkansas and Tennessee, was developed by Health Teacher, Inc. using research showing that short bursts of physical activity positively impact achievement, cognitive skills and behavior as well as overall health. Teachers use GoNoodle between lessons as short, snappy educational transitions combined with much-needed calisthenics through games like Bodyspell, where a robot spells out a word and students move their bodies to create the shape of each letter in the word. The kids bend and flex into dozens of words until they have exhausted the list – and themselves. Nearly 17,400 teachers used GoNoodle in Arkansas and Tennessee classrooms last year.
Exercise isn’t the only key to success when it comes to health. Learning to eat healthy is an equally crucial component to living a healthy life. In Wyoming, the Boys and Girls Club Alliance of Wyoming partnered with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming Caring Foundation to implement Healthy Habits, a healthy lifestyles program, in January 2015. Healthy Habits is designed to teach young people about the benefits of eating right and being physically active while equipping them with the skills necessary to adopt healthier lifestyles, including how to make good food choices, shop wisely, cook, garden, remain active and share what they have learned with their families and communities. The program has served more than 2,800 children between the ages of six and 18 at 16 club sites throughout Wyoming.
Recent statistics* show childhood obesity continues to grow in Western New York with 32 percent of children being obese or overweight in 2012. In an effort to curb this trend, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York introduced the Healthy Zone Program to more than 2,500 third-graders in 36 Buffalo Public Schools. The curriculum-based program includes giving teachers additional resources to use in their classrooms while providing the students a fun, interactive way to learn and share healthy habits. Teachers are provided with Healthy Zone Activity Kits — interactive kits based on the latest guidelines and filled with healthy activities and examples of healthy living — throughout the year as part of their teaching plans.
In addition, five students from each of the 36 schools participated in the Healthy Zone Game Show, a 30-minute interactive trivia show, in front of an audience of their peers. Eighteen episodes were produced by and aired on local channel WBBZ-TV.
* United Way of Buffalo & Erie County