Founder’s Message ~ February is The Month of Love
Heading into February, we are reminded of the importance of love during this heart month. There is no stronger motivation to be healthy than for the one’s we love. Love can be expressed in ways that support health such as: spending quality-time playing with our children inside or outside. Playing active games like tag, dancing, throwing or kicking a ball with our children costs no money and pays big rewards. As well as, prepping healthy meals and sitting down together at the dinner table supports children’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. In essence, love is a secret weapon that we all hold inside of us and when unleashed in smart ways, is powerful. The HEAL staff pours intellectual content wrapped with heart and soul into our teachers. The teachers extend that passion and wisdom to the students. The students bring that energy home. I have read thousands of testimonies from children who embraced the HEAL lifestyle explaining how their families’ committed to practice HEAL with them. Parents and grandparents reported that the passion and knowledge their child brought home helped the family exercise together, eat better and even manage existing health conditions. These families experienced genuine health improvements and bonding which increased hope and joy. Only the power of love could accomplish so much.
On that note, teachers and families should not miss opportunities to celebrate moments in life such as Valentine’s Day and Birthdays in healthy ways. Celebratory settings present a wonderful opportunity to introduce children to healthy foods they normally would refuse. For example, offering fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate is a fun way to introduce whole fruits. Including children in the design and planning process makes healthy living fun and inspires them to be creative and engaged. The HEAL program challenges our children to think about the foods they are putting into their bodies as the “fuel” that keeps us going every day. We don’t want to run on empty calories that don’t provide enough nutritious value. We are always thinking of ways to make our food and recipes more HEALicious. Meals that are nutritionally dense and approved by children for great taste qualify as HEALicious. The goal is to nourish children’s growing bodies with a variety of whole fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein, dairy and complex carbohydrates. We are always collecting recipes to form a larger HEALicious menu to share with families in our curriculum and calendars. Please keep those recipes coming and let us showcase your school.
This month reminds us ALL to keep the most important muscle in our body strong…our HEART! Through HEAL, we are teaching children to exercise in the Healthy Heart Zone (the aerobic heart rate). The Healthy Heart Zone is safe, effective and essential for disease prevention and health maintenance. Cardiovascular fitness can be achieved progressively by first taking your heart for a walk. As fitness increases, intensity increases. A walk becomes a slow jog and so on. Our curriculum teaches children to ENJOY physical activity as we help students discover a variety of sports, activities and interactive games that help them get into the “Zone”. Moderation, balance and enjoyment are keys to establishing long-term healthy lifestyle behaviors. Extremes are counterproductive when it comes to food and exercise. Telling a child they can never have their favorite treat or to exercise above a safe intensity can lead to forfeit, failure and rebellion. The HEAL lifestyle promotes a balance of nutrition and exercise along with freedom to enjoy treats in moderation. Enjoying healthy living ensures sustainability.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do to help HEAL Alabama.
Christy Swaid, CEO & Founder of HEAL, Inc.