Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60) student ambassadors at Marion Elementary in Allen, Texas, were busy in their kitchens this November creating delicious and nutritious snacks to share with peers. These students participated in the annual Medical City Children’s Hospital kids teaching kids® 21-Day Challenge, which encouraged kids and families across North Texas to create healthy snacking habits by eating more fruits and vegetables for 21 days.
With many students transitioning to virtual learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, encouraging families and empowering students to engage in healthy habits at home has become increasingly important.
“With half of my students being virtual, the 21-Day Challenge gave me a way to reach my students who were at home as well as in-person,” said Kera Williams, physical education teacher and FUTP 60 program advisor at Marion. “It allowed us to incorporate a nutrition component in our lessons and help students develop healthy eating habits in an easy, kid-friendly way.”
Like many other FUTP 60 schools in the area, Kera and her students used the challenge as a way to complete their Healthy Eating Play from the FUTP 60 Playbook, which helps schools meet their wellness goals though a focus on nutrition and physical activity.
According to Ryan Eason, director of kids teaching kids® and community relations for Medical City Healthcare, close to 20,000 students across 14 school districts participated in this year’s virtual challenge.
“The kids teaching kids® program is proud to partner with like-minded programs, such as Fuel Up to Play 60, that focus on the nutritional and physical well-being of children,” Ryan said. “Their support and engagement in the 21-Day Challenge helps elementary students build a strong foundation.”
Prior to the 21-Day Challenge, registered dietitians from Medical City Children’s Hospital worked with Texas ProStart culinary students from 15 North Texas districts to create a digital recipe book, which was used by participants during the challenge. Recipes were designed to be easy for elementary-aged kids to prepare by themselves, included at least one serving of fruits or veggies, and followed the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This year's cookbook also included 10 recipes featuring dairy, a popular choice among participating students – and highlighted dairy's farm-to-fridge story in an illustrated infographic provided by Dairy MAX.
Several students from Marion Elementary even filmed videos to share how to make other dairy-based snacks from the challenge’s Healthy Snack Finder – including the Power Berry Parfait, Infinity Smoothie and Pita Pizzas.
“I like using the cookbooks to find snacks that are easy for me to make,” said Sophia, a student from the Marion FUTP 60 team. “Since Fuel Up to Play 60 is about eating healthy and getting active for 60 minutes each day, I think the 21-Day Challenge helps our team show how easy and yummy healthy eating can be."
And while students enjoyed the benefits of healthier snacking, schools were also rewarded for their participation. Thanks to supporting sponsors, a total of $28,000 was awarded to area schools. Learn more about the program’s success and how you can get your school involved.