October 31, 2008

Live It! program jumps to area high schools

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This year’s Live It! Go for the Red, White and Blue program kicked off in high energy fashion recently at Glencliff High School. (photo by Joe Howell)

Live It! program jumps to area high schools

Vanderbilt’s Anna Au talks to students at the rally. (photo by Joe Howell)

Vanderbilt’s Anna Au talks to students at the rally. (photo by Joe Howell)

Amidst cheers and chants and music from the marching band, Live It! Go for the Red, White & Blue kicked off recently at Glencliff High School, the first high school to be included in the wellness program.

For three years, Live It! Go for the Red, White & Blue has educated Nashville middle school students about healthy lifestyle choices and challenged them to make nutrition and fitness a priority, but organizers saw a need to expand the program into high schools.

“Originally, we found that middle school students had the greatest need and a lot of resources have been infused into them, but very little was being done in high school. The kids were leaving middle school and reverting back to unhealthy behaviors,” said Mary Kate Mouser, director of the Children's Health Improvement and Prevention (VCHIP) program at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Mouser said the expansion to high school was also prompted by a study that found elementary and middle school students were increasing their physical activity, but high school students were decreasing.

In addition, Coordinated School Health, a state-funded health improvement model developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was implemented for the first time this year.

All students will receive a pedometer to track their physical activity, and they are challenged to take 10,000 steps and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. They will have access to a Web site to track their nutrition and fitness choices, and those who participate will be entered into a monthly prize drawing.

Health information will be incorporated into the curriculum, especially in the culinary arts department, which will teach the importance of preparing nutritious meals.

Jamie Arendall, a health coordinator at Glencliff, said she has already incorporated the goals of the Live It! program into her classes and is excited about the resources that are now available.

“It's more than just the typical physical education class,” she said. “The kids are definitely paying attention and thinking about their health. The program is very appealing to them.”

Last month, a health clinic opened at Glencliff, providing physical and mental health services and information about the program to students as well as teachers, parents and community members.

On Oct. 17, Glencliff also held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its wellness center. It is equipped with fitness equipment and a pool.

Instead of the eight-week program typically offered at middle schools, Live It! will be offered at Glencliff year round.

“You get better results the longer you can do a program,” Mouser said. “We hope to hard wire health and wellness into the school culture and make it a way of life for students, staff and the community.”

Live It! is a partnership between Children's Hospital, Alignment Nashville and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, and is sponsored by Aetna and Dell.

“We have great resources aligning together to really make a difference,” Mouser said.