by Liz Duda
York County, SC (Apr. 30, 2018) ESMMYC Coalition Coach, Jessica Cominsky Cody, shared highlights of “Healthy Together 5-2-1-0” with an engaged audience at the April ESMMYC general membership meeting. The Healthy Together program supports partners’ culture of healthy living through engagement, consistent messaging, collaboration, education and policy changes. ESMMYC partnered with Atrium Health to roll out the Healthy Together 5-2-1-0 Program to five Rock Hill and seven Fort Mill elementary schools in the 2017-2018 school year. We plan to roll it out to after-school programs and early childhood centers in 2018-2019. Atrium Health already offers the program in its pediatric healthcare sites.
The Healthy Together program reinforces the importance of healthy eating and active living. The 5210 League led by Action Ace (an animated Cam Newton), promotes 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, fewer than 2 hours of recreational screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity (represented by Action Ace) and 0 sugary drinks – more water (or nonfat or 1% milk). It is supported by a comprehensive toolkit with assessment, education, environmental/policy change and evaluation components.
Participating schools register and engage students, parents, staff and community through family information, monthly education, a 5-2-1-0 assembly and at PTA/PTO meetings and family nights; assess the environment and practices then develop an action plan for the year; implement the chosen strategies; complete the Healthy Together survey to assess the impact of polices and practices implemented; then share successes with staff, children, parents and the community. School-setting priorities include: limiting unhealthy choices for snacks and celebrations and giving healthy choices; limiting or eliminating sugary drinks and providing water; prohibiting unhealthy food rewards; giving opportunities for daily physical activity; and limiting recreational screen time.
The three recognition levels are: bronze for implementing all priority strategies; silver for communicating with families and the community; and gold for implementing policy. There currently are three bronze-level schools in the Fort Mill School District: Gold Hill, Orchard Park and Springfield Elementary Schools.
Cody emphasized the importance of this program in South Carolina, given that our state ranks 10th in the U.S. for obesity. The most recent ESMMYC survey showed that two out of every five 5th-graders in the Rock Hill School District were overweight/obese and 1/4 of 5th-grade Fort Mill School District students were overweight/obese. Cody is empathetic, having been diagnosed with Type-I diabetes at age 11 so recognizing the need to live a healthier lifestyle.
Meeting participants were engaged, noting that residents are growing more health conscious, including millennials. They brainstormed the possibility of displaying the 5-2-1-0 message at local grocery stores. And kids prefer rewards such as recess instead of sweet treats, according to a recent Rock Hill School District / ESMMYC survey.
All students deserve the opportunity to be healthy and successful. And it is particularly important in the schools, as healthy students and increased physical activity improve academic performance, classroom behavior, cognitive skills, attitudes, attendance, concentration and memory.