North Dakota Nutrition Council

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SchoolsAlive! Energ-I-ze

Kristen Liebl, RDN, LRD

SchoolsAlive! Energ-I-ze is a fit family night held at Fargo, West Fargo, and Moorhead elementary schools. It is sponsored by Sanford Health and other area organizations and businesses. It is a small part of the bigger initiative CassClayAlive! which is a collaboration of health-minded organizations that have joined to make Cass (of North Dakota) and Clay (of Minnesota) counties the healthiest places in America to live. Our solution: Change our food and fitness culture so that healthy choices become the easy choice.

Last year Energ-I-ze visited 10 schools with about 2000 students and family members in attendance. Energ-I-ze is now in its 5th year with 4 new schools added to the schedule. Aurora Elementary in West Fargo was one of those new schools and they had over 550 students and family members attend there event alone!

The event is free and open to all students and family members of the hosting neighborhood school. They are held from 5-7 pm on Thursday nights with a come and go as you please atmosphere.

Here are the 4 main goals of SchoolsAlive! Energ-I-ze:

1) Collaborating the Community: Organizations and businesses working together to send consistent overall health messages to our students and families, while also working together to show the many options for youth and family programing and/or activities available in our community.

2) Offer a free family fit night: Energ-I-ze gives the opportunity for families to experience a night of fitness and tasty nutritious foods all for free.

3) Nutrition Education: Learning about food through site, smell, taste and activity. Here are a few examples of our nutrition stations: Meal Makeover “White Bean Chowder” with fish shaped crackers and fresh fruit, nutrition Bingo, MyPlate Bracelet making provided by NDSU Extension, 3-A-Day Dairy Super Hero craft, fruit and vegetable walk, and gardening activities.

4) Physical Education: Each event provided activities families could do at home - hula hoops, obstacle courses, jump ropes, balls, etc. Energ-I-ze also provided special fun equipment such as gymnastics mats (provided by TNT Kids Fitness and Gymnastics or Gold Gymnastics), scooters, stacking cups, and climbing rope. Great Rides of Fargo also provided the Great Northern Bike Challenge at each event where students compete against each other to see who can provide the most energy on a stationary bike. Lastly, we provide two 15 minute sessions of family Zumba® for everyone to participate in.

Evaluation of Energ-I-ze events included attendance at each event, surveys collected at the end of the night. Each family that attended filled out one 4 question survey. Many families stated the enjoyment of the time spent as a family, new meal and snack ideas, and the ample physical activity provided as a family. SchoolsAlive! Energize program will be attending 14 different Elementary schools this 2014-2015 school year. As the program grows much of our support now comes from school PTA and volunteers from the community. Thank you NDNC for your support to help our program continue to grow successfully!

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