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  • 1. Thursday, April 24, 2014 Page 3The Chronicle-News Trinidad, Colorado EducationHEALTH & WELLNESS Fishers Peak Food Play provides good nutrition info, freewheeling fun By Steve Block The Chronicle-News Good nutrition can be an exciting pros- pect, and that fact was prominently dis- played on Monday at the Food Play dem- onstration at Fishers Peak Elementary School. A passel of enthusiastic kids was entertained by a demonstration about the positive benefits of good eating and healthy exercise by Food Plays Coach, portrayed by Danielle Gendron, and Johnny Junk- food, played by Jordan Phillips. Johnny Junkfoods goal of achieving su- perstardom as a juggler was hampered by his poor eating habits, if and when he chose to chow down at all, while Coach, whos the leader of the National Junior Juggling Team, was trying in vain to instill the hab- its of good nutrition and healthy exercise in the feckless Johnny. With just enough coaxing by Coach, Johnny began to turn over a brand new and very green leaf. The kids howled with enjoyment as they watched the reformation of the sad sack Johnny into a shining example of good modern living. Though Food Play turns good eating into good fun, it has a more serious pur- pose. In the last 25 years, childhood obe- sity rates have doubled among elementary school children nationwide and tripled among teenagers. One in three children is overweight, and less than 2 percent of the nations youths are meeting their daily nu- tritional requirements. On average, kids are drinking more than 600 cans of soda and consuming more than 150 pounds of sugars a year, while missing out on the rec- ommended levels of fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are needed for optimal health, according to information from Food Play. The fun-filled Food Play performances put school nutrition front and center and highlight the importance of fruits and veg- gies. After the school-wide assembly per- formance, the school receives extensive follow-up resources to keep the message going strong all year long. The peppy pro- gram gets everyone in the school, including students, teachers, parents, food-service personnel, health staff and administrators excited about creating healthier schools and improving childrens eating and phys- ical-activity habits. The Fishers Peak program was funded through a grant from the Bar N-I Commu- nity Service Fund. The grant paid for the Food Play show, along with DVDs, booklets and other nutritional learning materials to help students practice good nutrition and exercise habits. The materials can be re- used year after year, allowing for continu- ity in the nutrition and exercise programs. The Food Play program introduces the U.S. Department of Agricultures My Plate food guide, which helps kids learn how to fill half of their plates with fruits and veggies. A solid breakfast is encouraged for kids as the best way to start every day. Students learn about GO foods that they should eat from all of the five food groups and WHOA foods that they should try to avoid. Food Play helps kids learn the skills they need to see through TV commercials, to de- cipher food labels and to make smart choic- es about their own health and the health of the planet. The show concluded with the exciting Super Star Snack Attack Game Show, in which contestants learned how to prepare their own healthy fruit and veggie snacks, rather than buying junk food at the store. The message came through loud and clear to the kids that they should feed healthy foods to their bodies, feed positive images to their minds and enjoy the chance to be ac- tive every day. Caroline Villa, the school districts food- service director, said the federal govern- ment had mandated new school-nutrition standards that recommend more whole grains and reduced sodium levels. We hope this program will encourage the kids to bring these nutrition and ex- ercise ideas home with them and not just leave them in the school lunchroom, Villa said. Steve Block / The Chronicle-News Coach, portrayed by Danielle Gendron, above right, fires up a crowd of kids at Mondays Food Playprogram.Coach, belowright,hasJohnnyJunkfood,playedbyJordanPhillips,allwrapped up in a food label at the Food Play program at Fishers Peak Elementary on Monday. 11th ANNUAL EVENT TMS Literacy Night approaches By Michael Guadagnoli Special to The Chronicle-News Trinidad Middle School will host its 11th Annual Family Literacy Night on Wednes- day, April 30, beginning at 5:45 p.m. at the Middle School Auditorium. This years theme is 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Read. The theme encom- passes both literacy and science, specifical- ly space science. Students and parents will participate in activities that relate to the theme, as well as getting to meet this years author, Dr. Jef- frey Bennett. Dr. Bennett is currently an Adjunct Research Associate for the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the University of Colorado at Boulder and is a nationally acclaimed author and guest speaker. He currently has four critically ac- claimed books: On the Cosmic Horizon, Beyond UFOs, Math for Life, which won the Colorado Book Award for general non-fiction, and What Is Relativity? Dr. Bennett is also the creator and au- thor of the series, Science Adventures with Max the Dog, which includes Max Goes to the Moon, Max Goes to Mars, Max Goes to Jupiter and The Wizard Who Saved the World. These titles were selected by the Story Time From Space Program as the first set of books to be launched to the Inter- national Space Station on January 9, 2014. Astronauts are reading these books to chil- dren around the world. Dr. Bennett is also the founder of Big Kid Science, a company dedicated to educating and inspiring chil- dren with the wonders of science. Childcare will be provided for families with younger children so that TMS stu- dents and parents may attend the evenings sessions. Family Literacy Night is made possible with funding from the 21st Century After-School Program Grant, of which Trin- idad Middle School was a recipient for the past two consecutive five-year cycles. Photo courtesy of Trinidad Middle School Mrs. Vallegos reads to her class in preparation for the upcoming Family Literacy Night. The guest author for the event, which will be held on Wednesday, April 30, will be Dr. Jeffrey Bennett. Photo courtesy of TSJC Nail competition at TSJC The Cosmetology Department at Trinidad State challenged students to a nail competition. Area professionals judged the entries. The entry by Mariah Mock, above, placed first in the nail competition, second place went to Mariah Coca, and third place was a tie between entries from Christina Sanchez and Jeanna Pedri. DEVELOPMENT How does watching television affect the brains of young children? By Martha Holden Demand Media Children under age 5 are actively growing, learning and developing hab- its that will shape their mental, physi- cal and emotional health. At a critical period to the childs body and brain development, any undesirable influ- ences can have lifelong mental and health effects on the child. Television viewing among kids has been linked to both positive and negative impacts on early brain development, behavior and health. The Growing Brain Most young children plug into the world of television long before they start school. The early childhood period is a critical time for brain development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a childs brain under- goes immense growth during the first three years of life, with the brains mass tripling in just the first 12 months. The stimuli experienced during this period have significant effects on the childs brain development. For infants and toddlers, images on television screens differ significantly from those in the real world. The inability of the child to perceive the difference between the two worlds can have lasting ef- fects on vital functions, including language development, vision and memory, cognitive development and attention. Language Development Young children learn most efficiently from interacting with other people. The parent-baby relationship is crucial for social interactions and mental stimulation. With a television, this relationship is profoundly affected because of reduced parent-child interactions and engage- ment. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a toddlers brain is genetically equipped to learn from social interactions with caregivers and other children. Reduced par- ent-child relationships often contributes to less conversational interactions between the par- ents and children, something that can slow the acquisition of language skills and cues. Cognitive Development High levels of television consumption during the early childhood period can have modest to adverse effects on subsequent cognitive de- velopment of kids. Scientists suggest that the visual and auditory output from television nega- tively affects the levels of attention, creativity, problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills of young children. Watching non-educational programs on television can get in the way of playing, exploring and interacting with parents and other children, thus undermining learning and academic engagement. Too much screen time for kids can interfere with vital activities, such as reading, homework completion, atten- tion, sleep and eating habits which can then affect your childs cognitive outcomes. Vision and Memory Even though television watching is a pas- sive activity, understanding the messages portrayed requires particular skills, including listening, memory and visual skills. In the first three years of life, young children cannot fully comprehend such messages since many of these skills are only beginning to develop. The visual language used on television screens is often too difficult for kids to decode, and hence the level of information retention is called into question. Social Skills The American Academ