How to be Healthy, by Annabella (4th Grade)

During the PacificSource Healthy Life Schools Challenge, studentsHL-Schools-challenge-logo_blue-text entered an essay contest, answering the question, “How do you live a healthy life?” The responses were truly inspiring, though, Annabella’s essay rose above the rest. Here is her original, winning essay:

How to be Healthy

by Annabella Friedrich, 4th Grade

Riverbend Elementary

Do you know how to keep a healthy life? I do and I know its all about decisions. Decisions on exercise, moderation and even being organized.

One important thing to be healthy is exercise. Having fun is just like exercise. One way to have fun exercising is playing out side or walking to the park. Theres also computer program called go noodle it has exercise videos and more.

Another thing about how to keep a healthy life is moderation. Moderation means only a little bit of something like food. Only a little bit of ice cream, chocolate, sugar free gum, candy and sweets.

One more thing about being Healthy is being organized. One way to be organized is righting down everything you eat or every time you watch TV.

Take my advice if you want to live a long and strong life you should exercise, moderate your self, and be organized.

Congratulations, Annabella! For your great work, you will be treated to a week at the Jordan Kent Skills Camp for you and a friend. Way to go, and keep living your healthy life!

Education and Research Key to Reducing Preterm Babies

Our very own Sheila Spear, Registered Nurse informs us of preterm births and what each of us can do, including going for a walk!

Mother and Son PlayingEach year during the month of April, nearly 700 communities across the country come together to raise money and promote awareness of healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. This large-scale effort is the March for Babies walk put on by the March of Dimes to fund research that helps babies begin healthy lives.

In the United States, preterm birth – when a baby is born prior to 37 weeks gestation – is the leading cause of infant mortality. Approximately 450,000 babies are born preterm in the U.S. each year, and 12 percent of those babies do not survive. Sadly, the U.S. trails other developed nations in its rates of babies born preterm.

Those who do survive are at a much greater risk for developing other serious health complications, including but not limited to respiratory distress syndrome, intraventricular hemorrhaging, apnea, and infections and illness due to underdeveloped immune systems.

Why a pregnant woman goes into labor too early is not always understood. In some instances, however, preterm birth is preventable.  Educating women of childbearing age (15-44) on leading a healthy lifestyle and early signs of preterm labor have been shown to have a significant impact on reducing preterm birth rates.

Here’s what we do know about reducing the risks of preterm birth:

  • Quit smoking before or early in pregnancy
  • Eliminate elective deliveries before 39 weeks gestation; in other words, those that are not medically necessary
  • Exercise regularly, take prenatal vitamins and eat a variety of healthy foods – particularly fruits and vegetables – before and during pregnancy
  • Promote early access to prenatal care; it serves as a critical tool to educate women on how to take good care of themselves throughout their pregnancy
  • Early prenatal care, in the first 8-10 weeks, also identifies and manages women’s risk factors and health conditions
  • Screen for anxiety and depression in early and mid-pregnancy
  • Support women with substance abuse problems in getting the help they need to stop abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Educate women on the early warning signs and symptoms of preterm labor so that they seek medical attention early
  • Encourage the use of stress management and relaxation techniques (stress hormones can increase risk of preterm birth)

Women with health insurance more than likely have access to prenatal care, as well as programs and services to help reduce the risk of preterm birth. Most health insurance providers offer additional support programs and women are encouraged to take advantage of these resources when they are available. For example, PacificSource Health Plans offers a Prenatal Program for its members designed to encourage early and ongoing prenatal care, and to provide support to pregnant women in understanding their healthcare benefits.

While preventive measures are critical steps we as a community can take toward reducing the rate of babies born prematurely, there is still much that we, as medical professionals, do not understand about why preterm births occur and everything that can be done to prevent them.

marchofdimes_webBy supporting organizations and events like the March for Babies walk, you can be part of a nationwide effort to fund further research aimed at helping moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies. Consider donating to or taking part in March for Babies. The 2015 events are noncompetitive 5-kilometer walks, and multiple events are being held throughout Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Visit marchforbabies.org for more information.

Teachers as Role Models for Healthy Habits

Healthy Eating
Two Oregon school districts—Bethel and Springfield—participated in a friendly Healthy Life Schools Challenge from April 14 to May 10. Teachers, faculty, and staff from 33 schools competed to find out which elementary, middle, and high school could eat more healthfully by replacing one unhealthy snack a day with a fresh fruit or veggie.

Throughout the challenge, 1,288 participants replaced 5,847 unhealthy snacks with 22,714 fresh fruits and veggies. PacificSource Healthy Life pitched in and donated some fruits and veggies to encourage participants to eat healthy along the way.

And, while this was a friendly competition to raise awareness for healthy eating, there were winners. Congratulations to Thurston Elementary, Briggs Middle School, and A3 (Academy of Arts and Academics) high school for consuming the highest percentage of fruits and veggies during the challenge! PacificSource Healthy Life will award each of the winning schools $1,000 to use for health and wellness initiatives in their school.

Active Living
Casa Run GrandsonIn addition to the competition to eat more fruits and veggies, the challenge also encouraged students, faculty, and staff to lace up their running shoes. PacificSource Healthy Life donated 50 race entries to Bethel and Springfield teachers and students for the Casa-Re/Max Integrity Champions for Children Run/Walk, which took place on May 10 at Skinner Butte Park in Eugene, Oregon. To help participants get ready for race day, a free Couch-to-5K training program was offered, which nearly 100 participants used to prepare for the Casa-Re/Max Run/Walk event.

If you’d like to train for your own local run or walk, you can use the free Run for My Healthy Life Couch-to-5K training program (shown below).

Couch to 5K_four week_family guide

Run for My Healthy Life Couch-to-5K

Visit RunningInTheUSA.com to find races in your community.

Links between Health and Education
School communities are increasingly becoming places where healthy habits can flourish. Teachers are in a good position to act as positive role models for students, parents, and the community. A teacher who is on a personal journey to wellness—including healthy habits such as healthy eating and regular physical activity—can have a good influence on the health of students and others.
As more and more schools, parents, students, and communities realize the strong links between health and education, the more progress students can make toward healthy choices and lifestyles.

Learn more at HealthyLifeChallenge.org.