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April 30, 2012
By Marilyn Ming
Three University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Faculty received the national USDA Priester Health Award that recognizes innovative health education programs positively impacting the health of individuals at the county, state and national levels.
Teresa Byington, Anne Lindsay and Madeleine Sigman-Grant created and implemented the All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit educational program to encourage preschool children to eat smart, be active and live healthy. Working in cooperation with preschool children's childcare teachers and parents, participants were provided interactive experiences that promoted healthful habits regarding physical activity, snacks, feeding cues and acceptance of self and others.
The All 4 Kids program was selected from among 28 program submissions nationwide to receive recognition for state and multi-state programming
The Priester Award honors Jeanne M. Priester and her accomplishments and contributions to the Cooperative Extension Service (CES). She was a leader in advancing health education within CES during her tenure at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the award is to recognize extension programs that are providing the leadership to expand their capacity to effectively implement health programs.
All 4 Kids was launched in 2007. Extension educators go into child care centers reaching lower income families twice a week for 30 minutes at a time and teach a curriculum to 3- to 5-year-olds and their teachers. Parents attend family activity nights three times during the course of the program and preschool teachers learn ways to extend the All 4 Kids information into their daily curriculum during training sessions throughout the program.
The All 4 Kids curriculum encourages children to eat fruits and vegetables every day and to choose healthy snacks. Children learn to eat when they are hungry and to stop when they are full, and they learn how physical activity will keep their hearts, muscles and bones strong. A backpack is sent home once a week with activities the child can share with the rest of the family, such as the "TV Moves Me" coloring book, which encourages families to move together during television commercials, and the "Healthy Snack Hunt" game, which teaches children and their parents healthy snacks are affordable and tasty. During family activity nights, which are held at the child care centers, the parents and children try new foods and dance together.
Studies show more children are becoming overweight and the obesity rate among children from lower-income families is almost double that of the rest of population. The issue is particularly serious in Nevada, where other studies show the consumption of fruits and vegetables is declining.