Instructor Laurene Burton and student Timothy Bosh get their aerobic workout during a HealthWorks for Kids class at Crystal Springs Elementary in Bothell.
Photo by Al Borman, for Evergreen Community Health Care.
by Deborah Stone
HealthWorks for Kids, a joint project of Evergreen Community Health Care and the Northshore and Lake Washington school districts, is in the second year of its pilot phase. The program uses an age-appropriate, interactive curriculum to teach elementary students about making wise choices when it comes to their health, physical safety, and emotional well-being.
HealthWorks for Kids is an eight-week program which is free to participating schools. Evergreen provides the instructors and materials, supported by tax revenue from the hospital district. It begins in second grade, a time when students are most open and enthusiastic to learn new behaviors, and follows the students through sixth grade. Each week focuses on a topic, such as healthy habits, heart disease, smoking, nutrition, exercise, physical safety, emotional well-being, and stress management.
One of the strengths of the program is that the kids learn by doing. "Our lessons are interactive--there's always some type of activity," explained Evergreen health educator Laurene Burton. "When we study the heart, they get to hear how their heart sounds after exercising, compared to how it sounds at rest. And in the exercise unit, the kids get to do different aerobic, stretching, and strengthening exercises."
The program is meant to supplement the health curriculum currently provided in the schools. Response to HealthWorks for Kids has been extremely favorable.
"HealthWorks is outstanding," said Crystal Springs Elementary principal Eileen Peterson. "Our parents tell us how happy they are to see this kind of preventive health education start so early."
Questionnaires filled out before and after the program indicate that students are learning and retaining the information. The hands-on activities help with retention. What is most important, according to Burton, is that the children are increasing their awareness and decision-making capabilities so they can make the right choices for themselves.
"Children who make healthy choices will grow up to be healthier adults, who in turn will pass those healthy styles along to their own children someday. That's what it's all about," she said.
For more information about HealthWorks for Kids, call 899-2665.