Healthy child initiative: School Readiness Council spreading word on '95210'
By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Wed., Apr. 3, 2013
Manchester's School Readiness Council, a collaborative town effort dedicated to the educational and physical well-being of children, is raising awareness for its health initiative, “95210: Manchester's Message for a Healthier You.” This campaign promotes healthy life choices for pre-natal care up to children 8 years of age. On Tuesday, April 2, the council held a Wellness Fair at the Lutz Children's Museum, where town and community supporters provided more information on each of the five numbers.
“We're trying to promote the message so people know what the numbers stand for,” said Barbara Quigley, community health nurse for the Health Department of Manchester and the co-chair of the School Readiness Council. The goals of “95210” are: nine hours of sleep, five servings of fruits and vegetables, two hours or less of screen time, one hour of physical activity and zero sugary beverages.
Peggy Thompson of ECHN was on-hand to provide information on why nine hours of sleep is important for children. She also had tips on how parents can establish good bedtime routine's for children – follow a consistent routine, establish a relaxing setting at bedtime, and screen television or video games for age-appropriate content – and explained why proper sleep hygiene is vital for teens and young adults as well.
Molly Devanney and Mina Bealieu of Highland Park Market in Manchester spoke about why five servings of fruits and vegetables, or even more, are so important for a healthy diet. Devanney pointed out that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's “MyPlate” icon has replaced the “food pyramid” as the go-to visual aid for a balanced diet. Guests to ChooseMyPlate.gov will notice that half a child's plate should be fruits and vegetables, while grains and protein makes the other half.
Calvin Harris of the Manchester Recreation Department had tips on how parents could reduce a child's time in front of a television or computer screen to only two hours a day by providing fun outdoor activities for them. “It's about getting kids, teens and adults outdoors,” he said. The recreation department offers maps including the large number of walking and hiking trails Manchester offers, which often change or are updated from year to year. Also, now is the time to sign children up for the many recreation programs and summer camps that the Recreation Department is offering.
Christine St. Laurent, a personal fitness instructor and the wellness consultant for 95210's website content, was there to offer advice to parents on how they can encourage an hour of exercise for their children. “One hour can be intimidating for parents, but it can be easier than it seems,” she said. Parents can even involve their children in fitness classes for youth through the town; visit reconline.townofmanchester.org for more information.
Pamela Kilbey-Fox, a dental hygienist and a professor at the University of Connecticut, promoted a zero sugary drinks policy. “We're trying to reduce the amount of sugar kids consume from fluids,” she said, and that includes sports drinks. Because most kids are not going through intense and prolonged exercise every time they have a sports drink, they are consuming a high level of sugar and potassium, which does not get burned off. Those high levels quickly add up. Even juice has a high level of fructose, and Kilbey-Fox recommends cutting juice with water. If your city water is fluoridated, use that instead of bottled water to provide an added bonus for your children's teeth.
Kilbey-Fox had other oral hygiene advice for fair-goers, especially for expectant women. Oral health is vital during the perinatal period, as bacteria in the teeth can make its way into the placenta and harm the fetus. She stresses that women should visit a dentist before and during a pregnancy.
April 2 was also the day the School Readiness Council launched its website for this wellness initiative. Learn more at 95210.townofmanchester.org.