Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Students and teachers scoop up sugar as part of team foot race following a lesson on the importance of drinking water over sugary drinks.
Despite high temperatures Thursday, more than 1,000 Redwood City fourth-graders from 14 schools learned about healthy eating, staying active and being tobacco free at the 14th annual Make Time for Fitness field trip outdoors at Red Morton Park.
The day’s activities tie into classroom work since students complete a workbook called “Eat Healthy, Stay Active, Be Tobacco Free” with their teachers starting in early April.
Activity stations on two large fields included: drink water first, about learning the importance of drinking water over sugary beverages; friendship fitness, with games focused on teamwork and cooperation while playing sharks and minnows with hula hoops; fit fun yoga, with an introduction to yoga; farmers’ market, for learning what fruit and vegetables are available; and tobacco-free me, for learning about how there are more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes.
“Nine-year-olds are at a time when they’re able to start making decisions for themselves,” said Marie Violet, director of health and wellness at Sequoia Hospital, who also created the annual event. “They do go home and tell things to their parents. Kids come home and read the labels and ask their parents, ‘do you know how much sugar is in this?’”
The event, a partnership between Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital, the Redwood City School District Wellness Committee and several other community organizations, included more than 100 volunteers. A key change this year was including more high school student volunteers since Karen Li, wellness coordinator for the Sequoia Union High School District, talked to Violet about adding in more high school volunteers. Students from Carlmont High School’s Students Offering Support (SOS) program, the Sequoia High School Health Career Academy and Woodside High School assisted at the stations.
“They’ve (the high school students) been learning the challenges of working with kids,” said Shelley Bustamante, coordinator of Carlmont’s SOS. “They have to make sure they’re projecting the right kind of message. The kids look at them like they’re celebrities.”
The high school volunteers said the experience was positive for them and helped them gain leadership skills.
“I like seeing the kids hesitant in the beginning, then them not wanting to leave,” said volunteer and Carlmont junior Thomas Gifford.
Another volunteer, Sequoia sophomore Frances Villatuya, said she enjoys teaching the fourth-graders what it’s like to be healthy. Woodside senior Megan Healy said she gained a lot of energy from the kids.
“It’s a good opportunity to teach them how to live a healthy lifestyle and go out and do it on their own,” Healy said.
The San Mateo County Tobacco Education Coalition; Sodexo Education; the city of Redwood City Parks, Recreation and Community Services departments; University of California Cooperative Extension; Safe Routes to School California; Redwood City 2020; and the Redwood City School District Wellness Committee also took part in the event.
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