A lesson in 4-H school enrichment programs

Alana West - Contributing Columnist

As we start the school year, I’d like to highlight one of our most popular 4-H school enrichment programs: Quest 4-Health. Offered to third grade classes across the county, this will be our sixth year offering the program which reached 372 students last year alone, thanks to a grant received from the Wal-Mart Foundation.

Each month, classes receive one healthy lifestyles lesson. Topics include MyPlate and the food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein, fats and oils), serving sizes, food labels, moderation, sugary drinks, sleep, breakfast, physical activity, screen time and hand washing. During each lesson, students are offered a healthy snack and a physical activity or game.

When delivering these lessons, it crosses my mind that I do not remember being taught some of these things, so it may be safe to assume other parents may not know some of this valuable information either. Consider this a teaching moment…

• Ever wondered why the fats and oils food group isn’t on MyPlate? MyPlate was developed to simulate a real plate, giving us something to visualize while making food choices. If fats and oils were on the plate we all might think it acceptable to include foods with high amounts of fats and oils on our plates at each meal, when in fact we need no more than 27 grams each day. Plus, fats and oils are found naturally in foods from other food groups.

• Why is the vegetable section of MyPlate bigger than the fruit section? That’s because fruits have more natural sugars than vegetables, and therefore usually taste sweeter. Sugar, even natural sugar, is not good for us in large amounts. We should try to get more of our vitamins and nutrients from vegetables rather than the more sugary fruit group.

• Let’s pretend your favorite drink has 28 grams of sugar per eight ounce serving. Any idea what 28 grams of sugar looks like? Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar. Go ahead, read the label and measure out it for yourself.

• Most kids, ages five to 12, need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night. While sleep is an individual thing, a lack of sleep can lead to agitation and over-activity, as well as obesity, diabetes, and stunted growth.

• There is some truth to “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Kids who do not eat breakfast are less able to learn in school, get less iron in their diets, and are more likely to be overweight. On the other hand, kids who do eat breakfast perform better in school, are more likely to participate in physical activities, and tend to eat healthier overall.

• Each of us needs at least one hours of physical activity per day. What counts as moderate to vigorous physical activity? Consider gardening, dancing or bicycling. The goal is to get up and get moving.

• While screen time is discouraged for children ages zero to two, it is recommended that ages two and up get no more than two hours of screen time per day. Research has found that depression and suicide rates are higher among teens that are exposed to more screen time. Even Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not allow their children to have smartphones until the age of 14.

For more information on Newberry County 4-H, contact 4-H Agent Alana West at 803-276-1091 x142. We operate out of the Newberry County Clemson Extension Office located beside Piedmont Technical College (1860 Wilson Road), we can be found online at www.clemson.edu/newberry/4h and are on Facebook. Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status and is an equal opportunity employer.


Alana West

Contributing Columnist

Alana West is the Newberry County 4-H Agent, she can be reached at 803-276-1091.

Alana West is the Newberry County 4-H Agent, she can be reached at 803-276-1091.