Throughout my schooling to become a registered dietitian, I can tell you one thing: I NEVER imagined that working to promote health and wellness could be as much fun as it was last week!
Last Tuesday, more than 350 students and adults, representing 31 Michigan school teams, traveled to Ford Field, to attend the fifth annual Fuel Up to Play 60 Rally for School Health. Our mission was to provide the school teams with tips, tools, and recipes to help them inspire others to eat healthy and be active for at least 60 minutes a day.
Fuel Up to Play 60 is a program founded by the National Dairy Council and National Football League, in collaboration with United States Department of Agriculture, that empowers students to take charge in making small, everyday changes at school, specifically focusing on healthy eating and physical activity.
It’s difficult to put into words the impact that the day’s events had on the teams that participated. Scott Ferry, a dairy farmer from Litchfield, Mich., served as the emcee and rallied the crowd throughout the day; students and school staff engaged in activities that included rocking out with Jill Jayne, registered dietitian and Rockstar Nutritionist… to hearing from Jean Blaydes, an expert on the connection between learning and exercise… all the way to catching touchdown passes from Detroit Lions alumni players, Herman Moore and Jason Hanson!
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few professional athletes and it never ceases to amaze me how well they interact with, empower, and encourage the students to make healthy decisions. One of my favorite messages of the day came from former kicker, Jason Hanson, during the press conference when he addressed the students about the fact that it doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete, if you’re an artist, if you’re an exceptional student, or if you’re in the band… what matters is that you take care of the ONE body that you’re given. He went on to say that this means more than cutting out “junk food” and moving more, it means making sure to eat nutritious foods, foods that will give you energy to be active for at least 60 minutes EVERY day, getting enough sleep, and making good life choices! If it would have been appropriate for me to stand up and shout from the rooftop, “AGREED!” I would have.
Being a lover of food, I appreciated the variety of foods that were offered, all of which met the School Meal Nutrition Standards. A couple samplings from the menu included fruit and yogurt parfaits, a variety of non-traditional quesadillas, rockin’ ratatouille, and chili-lime flavored baked chickpeas—a crowd pleaser.
The Rockstar Nutritionist, her Bone Building Crew and Roary (the Detroit Lions mascot) topped the “Rally Charts” this year with their newly released “Bone Rap,” a danceable song which focuses on the delicious drink that provides nine essential nutrients: low-fat milk. Jill also highlighted the fact that we all have ONE body, and that healthy is good for ME and MY body! A powerful message for the students, and an even more powerful reminder for the adults in the audience, myself included.
Seeing the looks of determination on the participants’ faces, hearing the cries of excitement that filled the stands and tasting the sweet victory that we’d accomplished that day, I’d say we completed our mission… plus some! I’ve seen the value and importance the dairy farm families of Michigan place on child health and wellness, and it’s events like these that further my pride in representing them every day of the year. Thank you for making this day possible; it is one that will make the record books for years to come.
To date, nearly 3,000 schools in Michigan have signed up to participate in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, and that number continues to grow. If you’re interested in learning how you can become involved in Fuel Up to Play 60 in your community, check out www.FuelUpToPlay60.com.
Until next year, Ford Field!