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MI Model Training
The session was led by Mary Ann George, one of the developers of the curriculum. She focused on promoting and teaching positive health behaviors in adolescents. Teachers received a huge binder full of information that included body shape image cards, physical activity game cards and lesson plans on everything from ethnic food pyramids, vegetarian diets and information on fast foods. The 4.5 hour session emphasized the need for teaching nutrition and physical activity, ways to increase and maintain positive health behaviors in adolescents and information on how to use the manual.
Many of the teachers expressed concern about what their middle school students are eating and the belief that many of them are not getting sufficient amounts of exercise. Several of the schools involved do not offer enough physical education for all students and lunchtime meals are not as healthy as they should be. However, some teachers did say that if given the opportunity, many of the kids would eat fresh fruits and vegetables and that they would rather "run around" and exercise. Fitting it into the day and the cost of nutritious food is often a barrier.
The goal of GWP is to empower students to make healthy choices for themselves and create action plans that will improve the overall school environment and their communities. Many of the Student Action Teams and the Coordinated School Health Teams at GWP participating schools are doing just that with programs and activities that provide cooking classes, nutrition education, healthier snack options and designated areas for students and staff to exercise.
But, it's not enough to encourage students to eat healthier. George offered games and helpful suggestions for the participants to improve their own eating habits and set goals to include more physical activity in their lives. It is commonly understood that adults provide the best role models for healthy behavior.
The opportunity for understanding why nutrition and physical activity are so important was driven home by a couple of brief presentations from staff members at the American Cancer Society (ACS) where the training was held. The ACS offered lots of additional resource materials for the teachers to take back to their schools about fruits and veggies and exercise as a means of preventing cancer.
Posters were handed out to each school at the end of the day displaying the food pyramid. The posters also showed examples of various body types illustrating how teenagers can be active and healthy at any size.
Teachers who attended the training were genuinely pleased with the information they received. Asked what they thought about the workshop, teachers said "very good", "wonderful, great, fantastic, perfect", "highly motivational", "very informative", "nutrition is the way to go", and finally "Well organized. This is definitely something our students need."