‘Together Counts’ Program Aims to Reduce Childhood Obesity

(Photo: Public Domain, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Public Domain, Creative Commons)

The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organization aimed at reducing childhood obesity, along with Discovery Education, the largest supplier of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, have announced the launch of the Together Counts campaign for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Since 2010, Together Counts has made steps toward encouraging educators, families, and students to live wholesome lifestyles. Since the program began, over $1.6 million has been granted to qualified schools nationwide. The program is a comprehensive health and wellness initiative targeting obesity in young people.

The program, available at no cost, gives teachers and pupils across the country standards-based lesson plans and an opportunity to win cash grants and wellness equipment for their schools. In 2016, the plan was updated to target overall wellness and lessons for pre-K, K-2, and 3-5 that teach goal-planning and procedures to develop resilience for a lifetime.

The Healthy Habits Curriculum gives teachers the tools needed to assist young ones to lead active and healthy lives. Lessons include instructions on physical, social, and emotional wellness. The materials support the federal 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and line up with national education standards.

Also available is SmartStartPrek.com, which offers content appropriate for younger learners and activities to build healthy habits in early childhood pupils.

Teachers, parents, administrators and community members may enter the Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes for a chance to win $30,000 in cash to be used for sports equipment and a PlayCubes Playground from Playworld.

One grand prize will go to a US military base or installation for schools that serve dependents of active duty military. Another grand prize will go to a school that qualifies for Title I federal funding.

Additionally, the program offers Smart from the Start Awards element to support preschool and Head Start teachers in constructing a method to increase health and wellness levels at their schools, along with a curriculum named SmartStartPreK.com. Instructors are given the task of implementing the lesson plans and incorporating the school community as a part of the program.

Information gleaned from the initial impact study showed students who took part in the Together Counts lessons added one or more physical activities a week to their wellness routine and were eating in a more conscientious manner. Also, over 90% of instructors thought the lessons had made a difference, and their pupils received a better knowledge of healthy habits.

"Lesson plans and student resources available through the Together Counts program have engaged my students in easy-to-understand health and wellness concepts that have empowered them to live healthier lives both in and outside of the classroom," said Francie Snyder, a teacher at Prine Elementary School in Manatee County, Fl. "I look forward to introducing my new students this year to the program, and entering my school in the Healthy Playground Makeover Sweepstakes!"

The designers of the PlayCubes Playground, Playworld, believe "The World Needs Play." They develop playgrounds where children make the rules, laughter is natural, and creativity is essential. The equipment is intended to help young bodies become stronger, to ensure children's safety, and to promote imagination. The company has been around for 45 years and creates inclusive, innovative and significant experiences for children of all ages and abilities.

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