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Kids’ class emphasizes fun, activity, healthy snacks

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RONAN — “Whoa foods,” “go foods” and “slow foods” are nutrition terms kids at the Boys and Girls Club are learning at an after school class that includes a 20-minute nutrition lesson and incorporates 40 minutes of sustained exercise as well as some stretching.

Brady Hout, 7, explained that an example of a whoa food would be a cupcake.

“Once in a week, you can eat a cupcake,” Brady said.

Go foods can basically be eaten all the time, like veggies and fruits. Slow foods are in the middle range. Baked French fries instead of deep fried shoestring potatoes would be a slow food choice.

This is just one tool Mike Tryon and his crew from Salish and Kootenai Tribal Community Health  use as they work with Blakely Brown, professor of Health and Human Performance at the University of Montana. They are doing a study involving kids attending Tryon’s after school class that includes parental involvement and nutrition handouts.

“It’s always a struggle finding a gym,” Tryon said, so they’re using the Indian Senior Center in Ronan, conveniently right across from the Boys and Girls Club on U.S. Highway 93.

Activities vary from day to day. They may begin with relays or a rousing game of floor hockey with Styrofoam sticks and large balls. Another day might start with a game of Frogs and Crocodiles using hula hoops as “lily pads” or a cardio workout with burpees, a punching bag and lots of running and jumping. The kids take time for a quick drink of water occasionally, but other than that they are moving all the time.

Tryon, Kiri Brennecke, Eddie Running Rabbit, Dawn Thomas, Angie Red Star and other crew members have been working for a month recruiting kids from the six to 11 age group at the Boys and Girls Club. The children had to have had good attendance at the Boys and Girls Club, three out of five days per week, and their parents had to agree.

The class is a three-week pilot project, which Tryon hopes will lead to a four to six-month program at the Boys and Girls Club. The first week the kids were outfitted with an Actical wristband, which measures quick and vigorous activity, to get a baseline of their activity. After a week they turned in their Acticals, but they will wear them again during the third week to see if they’ve made progress.

All of the class is fun for kids, but snack time is a favorite. Brennecke was hired specifically for this project, and she prepares healthy snacks, such as kiwis, pretzels and trail mix. While the kids are munching, the team goes to work.

One day they focused on serving size.

“A computer mouse is the size of rice or veggies you should be eating,” Brennecke said, “and an iPhone is the size of a serving of meat.”

Another afternoon groups of kids were given pictures of foods to categorize as whoa, go and slow foods and then load up a paper “plate” with a healthy meal.

Participants always receive a handout to share with their families, and the group also sends home a recipe for a snack and snack fixins’ in an insulated lunch bag, which comes back to class the next day.

And all the nutrition is filtering down to parents.

One mom reported her child told her she shouldn’t drink soda every day.

“It’s a whoa food,” she said.

Another family’s children talked them out of McDonalds for dinner and ended up at Subway.


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