Teachers

Blue Zones Challenge:

What is the Blue Zones Challenge?

For the first time in living history our children are expected to live shorter lives than their parents. The culprit: childhood obesity. Research shows our genes determine only 20 percent of how long we live and how healthy we are; the rest is lifestyle and environment. We’ve worked with world-renowned childhood obesity experts at the University of Minnesota on an innovative tool to help kids create an environment of health–by focusing on the five evidence-based behaviors that most determine their health as they grow up.

The Blue Zones Challenge uniquely teams students, parents, and educators because we know that when it comes to health, a child can not do it alone. A child cannot be expected to eat well if he or she goes home to salty snacks, sweets and soda pop on the dinner table. This personalized program empowers students, with the support of teachers and buy-in from parents to create a healthier home. They learn about, commit to, track and ultimately celebrate incorporating five key behaviors into their daily routines: They work to:

  1. Increase servings of fruits and vegetables — 5-9 servings a day is optimal
  2. Maximize physical activity — kids should be moving at least one hour per day.
  3. Eat breakfast — overall, children who eat breakfast are healthier than those who don’t
  4. Limit screen time — the biggest determinant of childhood obesity.
  5. Limit sweetened beverages — over half of America’s caloric increase in the past three decades is due to increased consumption of soda pop and sweetened beverages.

Process

Begin

Launch the Blue Zones Challenge with an open dialogue about your students’ health habits and yours. Do your students know how much exercise they get each day? How much television they watch? How many servings of fruits, vegetables and sweetened beverages do they consume? How do they feel about what they’re currently doing? How do they think they compare to the national average? Do they think their current behaviors are healthy?

Strategies for Success

 

Week 1 (Pre-Challenge Week)

With students as the driving force, they will be most successful with combined involvement from both parents and educators. When you are ready to begin, send home the Letter to Parents. Rather than keeping everything at home, we recommend you keep the Blue Zones Challenge Log, a tool for students to record their daily habits, in your classroom for easier management.

At the end of Pre-Challenge Week, send home the Blue Zones Challenge Contract. Students will determine their weekly goals for the Blue Zones Challenge with the help of their parents. Your students are to then return the Contract (signed by both students and parents) to you for monitoring purposes.

Weeks 2 – 3

Throughout the weeks, use the suggested Blue Zones Challenge activities/lessons to have fun, learn new concepts and give your students the tools they need to meet their individual goals.

Encourage students to log on to the Blue Zones website to enter their data on the students challenge page.

You may also provide students with a Daily Log to track their activities and goals. At the end of the week encourage students to enter their data online and see the results of their progress.

Wrapping Up

Ask students to submit their completed Blue Zones Challenge Contracts. Have another classroom discussion: Were they able to meet their goals? What were the most difficult obstacles they encountered? Did they feel they were able to make any lasting changes to improve their health and fitness?

Have students share their stories with us at [email protected].

 

Weekly Lesson Plans

Extend the Blue Zones Challenge experience and bridge the connections between what your students know and what they do and make an impact on children’s health and wellness.

Lesson 1 – Get Moving

In this lesson, students can understand the importance of being physically active and identify physical activity scenarios.

Get Moving

Lesson 2 – Healthier Food, Healthier You

In this lesson, students can identify ways to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Healthier Food, Healthier You

Lesson 3 – Sippin’ Sweets

In this lesson, students can read nutritional labels, understand the health costs associated with consuming sweetened beverages, calculate the financial cost of consuming sweetened beverages, and identify ways to reduce their own consumption of sweetened beverages.

Sippin’ Sweets

Lesson 4 – Tuning Out

In this lesson, students can identify ways to reduce time spent watching television when faced with common situations and peer pressure.

Tuning Out