Third-graders learn about wellness at Wilson College

May 09, 2001

Third-graders learn about wellness at Wilson College

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

They had no trouble putting beets, bologna and a banana in the right food groups, but when it came to finding the right spot on the food pyramid for salad dressing, the Franklin County third graders were stumped.

But with a little coaching from Mary Ann Oyler, a family-living agent from the Penn State Cooperative Extension Office, the 50 students learned that the dressing was a fat and belonged at the top of the pyramid.

Creating a balanced diet is one of many lessons nearly 1,500 third-graders from 31 public and private schools across Franklin County are learning at this week's three-day Children's Wellness Days, sponsored by Summit Health.

During four two-hour sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Wilson College, the children separated into groups and rotated through eight interactive stations.


The stations included lessons and games involving nutrition, fitness, tobacco prevention, drug and alcohol prevention, anger management, self-esteem, summer safety and fire and gun safety.

At the exercise station, the students practiced the sit-and-reach stretch after trainers from Results Therapy and Fitness explained how important flexibility is.

This is the second year Summit Health has hosted the event.

"The messages supplement the health curriculum at the schools in a fun way," said Teresa O'Neal, project coordinator.

She targeted the third grade for several reasons.

"Third grade is one of the most impressionable ages," she said. "They are still very teachable and we still have their attention."

A round of "Hot Potato" kept the attention of one group, as students sat in a large circle passing red and green balls.

When the music stopped, the students holding the green balls had to pick a positive alternative to violence from a list, and the ones with the red balls had to choose negative responses.

The kids gave a thumbs down to slamming the door, swearing and punching the wall.

They cheered asking for help and exercise as positive alternatives to anger and violence.

In the food and nutrition lesson, Oyler first got one group's attention by asking how many had eaten breakfast.

Most yelled a resounding "Yes!" and Oyler moved on to explaining the food groups.

Stephanie Dzimok, a Greencastle Elementary School third-grader, said she was learning a lot, from staying away from drugs to the 4,000 ingredients in a single cigarette.

And with a shy look to her teacher, Debbie Wine, Stephanie said she was having more fun at the wellness fair that she would be if she was in the classroom.

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