HealthPartners launches sixth year of the School Challenge
Includes more than 60 schools in Minnesota and western Wisconsin
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Grade school students across Minnesota and Wisconsin will soon kick off the 2017 School Challenge. It’s a three-week, fun-filled program for kids in kindergarten through fifth grades. The program encourages kids to eat five fruits and vegetables and be physically active each day.
The School Challenge began in 2012. It’s run by three HealthPartners community programs: yumPower, PowerUp and BearPower. The School Challenge is part of a long-term strategy to reduce obesity and prevent disease.
Research shows eating and physical activity habits formed in childhood last a lifetime. This includes eating five fruits or vegetables each day. And being active for at least one hour a day. But the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey shows most fifth graders don’t do either.
“Giving kids positive, fun experiences with healthy foods and physical activity has a big impact. This program helps create a healthy culture in schools. It does this with games, dancing and class activities,” said Marna Canterbury, the Director of Community Health at Lakeview Foundation. The Foundation oversees PowerUp.
Last year, 85 percent of staff and 73 percent of families said kids in the program ate more fruits and vegetables after the program. Read more in the 2015-2016 School Challenge report.
One key to the program is getting kids to try new foods. For instance, they try five vegetables and then pick their favorites as a class. They also track how many fruits and veggies they eat each day on a colorful grid. This helps engage their families as well.
More than 22,000 students participate yearly. The program is free to schools and students. It began with 32 schools. Today, it includes 61 schools.
HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation. The company’s mission is to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. For more information, visit healthpartners.com.