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A dose of healthy learning

By By MaryClaire Foster
In observance of National Child Health Day on Monday, Rachel Patterson Elementary hosted speakers on various health related topics, which began Oct. 1 and will last throughout this week.
National Child Health Day is in its 80th year and this year chose to focus on three key initiatives from the Surgeon General’s Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future campaign. The initiatives are: help kids stay active, encourage healthy eating habits and promote healthy choices.
Susan Smith, lead nurse/supervisor for Escambia schools, acknowledged the importance of providing children with health information.
The topics covered were oral hygiene, hearing, vision and nutrition.
Cynthia Rodgers Child Nutrition Program Director for the Escambia County School System was in attendance Monday to speak with children about the importance of good nutrition.
Rodgers said many steps have been taken in recent years to improve the nutritional value of school lunches. Fryers were taken out of Rachel Patterson three years ago and the cafeteria began using more frozen vegetables as opposed to canned to cut down on sodium. One percent and skim milk are also used to cook food, as well as skim buttermilk and reduced fat mayonnaise.
Rodgers said most parents and children do not know they are being fed low-fat lunches (according to a child’s nutritional needs) at school.
community,” Rodgers said.
All five food groups are offered at meals and students are required to get three of the five. Rachel Patterson Nutrition Director Brenda Watkins and her staff ensure the children do so and keep portion sizes in check. They will send a student back if these requirements are not met.
Rodgers commended Watkins on her effort to insure those who eat at school eat properly and watch over those with food allergies and diabetic issues.
Last Wednesday dentist Tom Rice visited the school and spoke to students about the importance of brushing and flossing their teeth. Toothbrushes and floss were given to all students in the school.
On Thursday, Dr. Priscilla Mitchell spoke to children about ear health. She told them how an ear should look and what not to put in it.
Mitchell said activities like this are important for children because it allows them to keep up with their own health.
Today and Tuesday of this week children will learn about the importance of having their sight checked. State officials will also come in to check immunization records.