Worcester County elementary school students will learn healthy eating and exercise habits through national theater production
FOODPLAY, an Emmy Award-winning nutrition theater show, is stopping in Worcester County as part of its national school tour. Using the power of live theater to turn kids on to healthy habits, the show features feats of juggling, motivating messages, music, magic and audience participation. FOODPLAY’s colorful characters entertain as they teach kids how to take charge of growing up healthy and fit.
All five of Worcester County’s public elementary schools – Pocomoke, Snow Hill, Buckingham, Showell and Ocean City – will benefit from this important message on September 28, 29, and 30.
Thanks to Atlantic General Hospital, more than 2200 students in kindergarten through fourth grades will witness the antics of Johnny Junkfood, whose dream is to become a juggling star, but keeps dropping the balls. The problem – his diet stinks! With the help of the “Coach” of the National Junior Juggling Team and the children in the audience, Johnny learns how to juggle the foods he eats to wind up with a balanced diet.
While FOODPLAY makes good eating great fun, its messages are very serious.
Childhood obesity has become the nation’s No. 1 health epidemic, with rates doubling among elementary school children and tripling among adolescents in the last 25 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if current eating and exercise habits don’t improve, one out of two African American and Latino children, and one out of three Caucasian children will develop diabetes.
FOODPLAY comes to the rescue, helping empower kids with the skills they need to make their choices healthy ones. Foodplay Productions was founded in 1982 by Barbara Storper, MS, RD, a national leader in children’s nutrition. According to Storper, today’s kids face a very difficult and confusing food environment, with the average child seeing over 10,000 food commercials on TV each year, with the majority promoting junk food products.
“We have to fight fire with fire,” says Storper. “For our messages to be effective, we need to use similar techniques that advertisers use in order to make healthy foods and healthy practices fun and cool for kids. And there’s nothing like the power and magic of live theater to get kids excited and motivated to treat their bodies right.”
Today, the average American child drinks more than 600 cans of soda and consumes more than 150 pounds of sugar each year. Less than one percent of the national’s youth are meeting their daily nutritional requirements, with intakes of fruits and vegetables far lower than what’s recommended.
As the FOODPLAY story unfolds, children learn how to see through TV commercials, decipher food labels, and make sense of today’s confusing fast food marketplace. Kids witness the ten teaspoons of sugar found in a can of cola, and the effects of soda on a dinosaur’s tooth in the old “soak in a Coke” routine.
The research-based school productions are followed by resource materials for parents, home, and the classroom which are based on national health standards. Dawn Denton, the community education manager at Atlantic General, traveled to Philadelphia to check out the show before bringing it to the Eastern Shore.
“It is a high energy show with a powerful message. The students sat spellbound the whole time. At the conclusion of the production, each student I spoke with was able to tell me several things they learned from the show. Each teacher was very complimentary of the program and the follow-up materials,” said Denton. “AGH is very pleased to partner with Worcester County Schools to bring this program to the students. I am proud of our hospital for being so proactive in their commitment to sponsor this program. An investment in our children is an investment in the future health of our community.”
For a video about Food Play and its effectiveness in getting the message across about healthy eating visit, http://www.foodplay.com/news/home.html#new1.
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