Families get health tips at fair in El Dorado Hills

By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
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Friday’s Family Wellness Night at Silva Valley Elementary School brought together kids of varying ages and their families, nutrition experts and fitness instructors to engage in fun, active play and learn healthier habits that will help them grow and thrive. The school’s PTA partnered with Mercy Folsom to educate and inspire those that attended the free event.

The stations included healthy cooking with Whole Foods, Zumba dancing, “The Doctor is In” Resources and Questions, Re-think Your Drink, Yoga and Healthy Lunch and Snack Ideas.

“As parents,” said Theresa Miller, historian for the PTA and organizer for the event, “we are always looking for advice and tricks to keep our kids healthy. … Knowledge is power.”

Miller’s food included a few sneaky tricks of her own: brownies with black beans, garbanzo bean chocolate chip cookies, and blueberry oatmeal bars with spinach.
Anthony Ortiz, 10, sampled one of the brownies.

“They don’t have any vegetables in them,” he insisted. “There are chocolate chips in them.”

Jan Wilcox, the community outreach specialist at Mercy Folsom, tailored the program for the elementary students and coordinated all the parties involved for each of the booths. In addition to the stations selected by Silva Valley, there were other choices available like the Dairy Council and Master Gardeners.

Hosting the Re-think Your Drink was Vicki Berends, marketing director for California Project LEAN (Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition). Berends has won numerous awards related to nutrition. In one study, she quantified the escalating amounts of unhealthy foods on school campus which led to state legislation establishing nutritional standards for school food.

“Speaking from the perspective of a parent,” said Berends, “sugary beverages are one of the leading contributors to obesity. We can substitute these drinks with water flavored with mint, lemon or strawberries. (It’s) a healthier alternative.”

Some of the kids were shocked to discover there were 16 teaspoons of sugar in a 20 ounce bottle of soda.

Arguably, the most popular station of the evening was the Zumba dancing led by Carol Allottey from Keep It All Tight.

She said she loves working with the kids.

“With the kids we focus more on the upper body,” she said.

The kids weren’t thinking about burning calories, but seemed more focused on having fun.

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