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Cooking Up Healthy Choices for Kids in Oregon

Special thanks to Elizabeth Engberg, Thriving Schools Program Manager for Kaiser Permanente Northwest, for her contributions to this article.

There’s nothing like a good challenge to get kids fired up. That’s just what happened at William Walker Elementary School in Beaverton, Ore. when Nike, Inc. and Kaiser Permanente came together to support an after-school event that blended healthy physical activity and healthy eating challenges…and a little bit of reality TV.

Nike led the physical activity portion of the afternoon’s festivities with a variety of games, including basketball and four-square, while Kaiser Permanente employee volunteers were in charge of the nutrition competition. The event was part of the two companies’ efforts to make every school in Oregon an Active School through the “Let’s Move! Active Schools” program. In the spirit of the popular cooking reality show “Chopped,” first- through fourth-graders took their turns working with a random array of healthy ingredients to cook up some creative recipe ideas.

Making Healthy Choices

Promoting healthy eating habits and good nutritional choices is an important part of Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to the health of our communities. Kaiser Permanente employees were thrilled to help kids learn about the importance of making healthy choices using the USDA’s recommendations from Choose My Plate.

Kid participants had 10 different food options in five food groups to choose from to create their individual after-school snacks. Ingredients included yogurt, turkey, berries and more. Many of the children were surprised to learn what options fell under the different food groups. And a few kids tried foods like hummus and limes for the first time ever.

The experience was priceless and the children — as well as volunteers — had smiles on their faces the entire time. It was great for the adults to be involved with future generations and set an example in the community of how important it is to practice healthy choices.

About the School

William Walker Elementary serves nearly 600 students in kindergarten – fifth grade. Nearly 70 percent of the students are English language learners and 85 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. A total of 15 different languages are spoken at the school.

This Thriving Schools event was integrated into the after-school program, “Shine,” a community-school program providing opportunities that many of the students wouldn’t otherwise have. The after-school program helps kids succeed with on-site homework assistance and academic classes in math, reading, and science, and offers enrichment activities in art, music, dance and more.

There are classes for parents as well, including Spanish, Zumba and computer basics. With William Walker Elementary staff, “Shine” works to ensure that all students and families at William Walker are fully engaged and supported in the community.

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