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Health fair teaches students to eat right, exercise, brush their teeth — and have fun

Monday, April 28, 2008 | 7:13 p.m. CDT; updated 5:12 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
On Monday, Eugene Field Elementary School student Michael Linzie Hayes does pull-ups, instructed by Gunnery Sgt. James Knuckles of the U.S. Marine Corps, at one of the stations set up for the nursing fair organized by the MU Sinclair School of Nursing.

COLUMBIA — A healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a bore.

Field Elementary School students ate healthy snacks, visited with MU athletes and ran relay races with ROTC members on Monday morning as part of a health fair put together by students from the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition, a national education program designed for parents and caregivers to help children 8 to 13 years old stay at a healthy weight.

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The nursing students and We Can! put together the fair to fight childhood obesity in Columbia. The MU nursing school plans on continuing this project in hopes of becoming a sponsor of We Can!, Krystle Miller, a nursing student, said.

Three more fairs are planned for this year.

Field Elementary was chosen for Monday’s fair because of its demographics, Miller said. “A lot of the students are on the free- and reduced-lunch program and at risk for childhood obesity,” she said.

The health fair, which was held for third- through fifth-graders, featured six different stations to promote a more active way of life.

Lindsay Smith, an MU senior volleyball player, and Matt Lawrence, an MU basketball player, talked about how they stay fit. ROTC members taught children how to do proper push-ups and pull-ups and coordinated a relay race across the gymnasium. In the race, students had to wear 20-pound backpacks. Students ate pretzels, cherries and food made from oats.

“The most important part of a healthy lifestyle is to exercise,” Brittany Dabrowski, a member of ROTC, said. “You can eat healthy but to live that lifestyle, you need exercise as well.”

After exercising and eating right, children visited a booth that taught them how to clean their teeth correctly. The nursing students demonstrated the stains that soda can leave on teeth by showing that soda turns a white egg brown after it sits in the fluid for too long.

“The tooth station was my favorite part,” fourth-grader Micah Alomar said. “It showed how to take care of our teeth and gave away lots of fun free things.”

Toothpaste and toothbrushes were given as gifts.

Children were also given an activity log to write down their fruit and vegetable intake and the amount of exercise they get each day. Each week after completing the chart, the children are eligible to enter their names in a raffle to win prizes, such as basketballs and baseball bats, which were donated by local businesses.

Students were also given a list of “fun” ways to stay active, including flying a kite and walking a dog.

“I’m going to fly a kite all the time,” fourth-grader Shannon Brown said.


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