The 13 students who participated in the most recent Louie’s Kids Run Buddies program might never have thought they could make it 6.2 miles over the Ravenel Bridge along with 40,000 adults, serious runners and elites. But more than three months of twice-weekly training sessions got them more than ready to accomplish the ultimate Charleston-area fitness challenge.
Run Buddies started as a one-on-one running program. One run coach would mentor one middle-school aged participant over the course of 12-16 weeks. The program has evolved into a group of volunteers and young runners. Louie’s Kids holds one or two sessions each year in partnerships with middle schools around Charleston. The most recent program leading up to the bridge run met at Mount Pleasant Recreation Center and included 12 East Cooper Montessori School students and one from Lange Middle School.
“My favorite part was watching myself get better,” said participant Lexi who joined Run Buddies because she already enjoyed running.
Students enjoyed fun, social physical activity outside while making friends, improving their fitness and working toward a collective goal. “I joined because I wanted to lose weight, feel better about myself and make it easier for the future,” participant Sam said. “My favorite part was that I accomplished my goal.”
Sessions started after school, with a snack and water, time to change, a spring/jog/run, and stretch session. Then runners broke up into groups on three tracks clustered by speed. Run buddies ran different routes around the rec center and I’On at different paces, some working up from walks to runs.
Louie’s Kids Director of Programs Deanna Smith has seen participants discover an ongoing love for running. One Run Buddy even came back this year after participating in a 2013 5K Run Buddies program. Another student used to find his only physical outlet in karate and had never run before. “He’s been so determined and setting goals. He’s fallen in love with running, it’s great to see,” Smith said.
Louie’s Kids is looking to start the next Run Buddies program in the fall of 2014. A school needs to have at least 12-15 children interested and at least one faculty member who can commit to helping out. Contact us to see how you could bring Run Buddies to your child’s school.
The Importance of Nutrition in School Lunches and How We Can Help Decrease Obesity Rates Among Children
The Importance of Nutrition in School Lunches and How We Can Help Decrease Obesity Rates Among Children, By Amanda Piret
Nutrition and obesity are rapidly becoming the primary concerns of public health. Thirty-five percent of children in the U.S. are overweight, or obese. The CDC predicts that one in three Americans will suffer from type 2 diabetes by 2050. For the first time in U.S. history, children born today have shorter life expectancies than their parents.
More than 16 percent of children in South Carolina are obese, with more than 83 percent receiving no daily physical education in school. Very few South Carolina children or adults meet their daily recommended values of fruits and vegetables, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. These issues need to be addressed. Poor health trends will only continue to get worse and raise a higher concern to our population.
Nutrition begins at home, but the public sphere and school community can also significantly impact children’s health. “Many children consume at least half of their meals at school, and for many children, food served at school may be the only food they regularly eat,” according to letsmove.gov. Changes at public school will start the change toward healthier kids. Some strategies and improvements are already underway to prevent and reduce rates of obesity in children. For example, The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 focuses on nutrition of children in school lunches. Schools that meet the new guidelines outlined in the act receive an additional $.06 per meal reimbursement. The act focuses on portion sizes based on students’ age. It emphasizes lower-fat dairy and leaner proteins that were not available before. More fruits, vegetables and whole grains are offered, and the act designs school meals to meet one-third of daily caloric needs of students. The only sweetened beverages allowed are flavored skim milks, and trans and saturated fats are limited.
Enacting healthy practices at home also helps kids live healthier, balanced and more nutritious lives. To promote healthy eating in a child it is recommended that children have regular family meals, cook more meals at home, get more involved, make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks and limit portion sizes. Some healthy lunch ideas for children to take to school are listed below. Be creative but be sure to limit sugars and salt!
- Wraps (Whole-grain wraps filled with turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato)
- Low-fat yogurt (it’s calcium and protein-rich)
- 100% Juice, Juice Box
- Fruit salad or fruit slices
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Celery with peanut butter topped with raisins.
It’s days like today that really make you pause, sit back and appreciate all that is good in the world. As you probably know, Louie’s Kids is having their annual fundraiser Little Chef Big Chef on August 25 at The Ordinary. The children who are participating as this year’s Little Chefs have something else to look forward to before making their big kitchen debuts: they will all be attending a health and wellness summer camp, thanks to the generous donations Louie’s Kids continues to receive from the community. Today, Louis got the children and their parents together for a lunch at Whole Foods to go over some of the last few details for camp…but he had a few other surprises in store.
While everyone was enjoying their healthy lunch, graciously donated by the LCBC title sponsor Whole Foods, Louis gave each one of the children the opportunity to talk through how they were feeling with camp just a few days away. Keep in mind, for some of these kids it’s their first time away from home (which I wasn’t sure who seemed more anxious at lunch, the children or the parents!) but all of them were nothing short of excited. At the end of the chat Louis introduced Beezer Molten, a close friend of his, to the group. Louis proceeded to tell the children and their parents that Beezer, who started Half-Moon Outfitters some 21 years ago, was donating gear and clothing from his stores to each of the kids for them to take to camp! The kids (and their parents) faces lit up! Immediately they started going through the gift bags, pulling out sunglasses, t-shirts, shoes, flip-flops, pullovers, bathing suits…and the list goes on!
I was sitting next to Mrs. Brown at the time and was chatting with her about her son Rayshawn’s upcoming trip, the gifts from Half-Moon and what Louie’s Kids has meant to him over the past 2 years. She is so proud of Rayshawn and could not stop expressing her appreciation. Sitting across from me were Adrian and his mother, who I am fairly certain said she was fighting back tears at the sight of the gifts. You see, these donations covered nearly all the “must-have” items listed for camp, and with them these kids are more motivated than ever.
Like I said, it takes a day like today to remind you of all that is good in the world. It was inspiring to hear the parents discussing their desire to join in their children’s new healthy and active lifestyle, from them coaching themselves on the activities their kids will be taking part in at camp, to even trying out a few new healthy recipes for meals when they return. And even though the gifts from Half-Moon were a big hit with everyone, I feel like Beezer’s lasting contribution to the children was the advice he shared with them. Beezer, who fittingly enough is an avid outdoorsman where fear of the unknown is a part of his daily routine, left them with these wise words should they ever get discouraged while away: “Fear is a part of everyday life, but it is something you HAVE to work through.”
Find Little Chef Big Chef event details here!
On August 25th, the 6th Annual Little Chef, Big Chef competition will take place at The Ordinary. This year, four chefs will work with four kids to put together what promises to be a very special evening. One of this year’s incredible Little Chefs is Adrian.
In 2011, Adrian lost his oldest brother, Ryan. When this happened, his other brother, Peter, came home to help out around the house and be available for his mom and Adrian. After Ryan’s death, Adrian slowly became more dependent on food for comfort, spending more and more time on the couch. Soon after his homecoming, Peter passed away from a heart condition. After losing two brothers in two years, Adrian’s reliance on junk food and video games escalated. Overwhelmed with grief, he found comfort in food and his sedentary lifestyle became severe.
But Adrian is a fighter. He recognized that the best way to honor his brothers was to live his own life to the fullest. Adrian decided to make a change and Louie’s Kids was happy to help him get back on track.
Today, Adrian is making healthier choices and living a more active life. He meets with Nate Edwards of Grind to Shine twice a week for personal training, and his Run Buddy is local meteorologist, Dave Williams. On May 10th, Adrian and Dave ran in the Leslie McCravy 5K where Adrian placed 2nd in his age group!
Adrian’s hard work has not gone unnoticed. After completing three weeks of weight loss camp this summer, Adrian was chosen to participate in the Little Chef, Big Chef competition. Not only will this be a great way for Adrian to celebrate his achievements, but it also will teach him basic skills for cooking healthy (and delicious!) food.
But that’s not all for our friend Adrian. As the oldest kid in the program, and because he has worked so hard, he will have the opportunity to go to Arizona this summer. Camp Shane is a horseback riding camp for overweight kids where Adrian will spend two weeks riding horses and learning more about living a healthy lifestyle. A very special thank you goes out to our friends at Southwest Airlines for helping to make this happen!
With your continued support, we are able to help kids just like Adrian to get active. If you want to help us celebrate Adrian, join us for this year’s Little Chef, Big Chef event, presented by Whole Foods with additional sponsor Southwest Airlines, on August 25th at The Ordinary.
Do you find yourself pleading with your child, niece or nephew to eat fruits and vegetables? Do you have difficulty pulling them away from the screen to play outside? Perhaps the answer lies in gardening. A study conducted by Auburn University investigated the impact of a school garden and nutrition education on the knowledge, preference and actual consumption of fruits and vegetables among second-grade students. Results revealed that a combination of nutrition education and gardening (rather than either intervention alone) led to a significantly greater knowledge and taste preference for vegetables and resulted in the greatest likelihood of children choosing vegetables in a lunchroom setting. “California Healthy Cities” shows that participation in school and community gardens increases an individual’s physical activity per week and consumption of fruits and vegetables per day.
Research strongly associates various forms of “tending to nature” such as gardening with health benefits. Those who engage with nature are more likely to participate in other forms of physical activity and healthy behaviors. Data indicates mere exposure to nature and the ecosystem improves an individual’s perceived quality of life and lowers markers of stress. Interacting with nature also improves adolescent attentiveness and cognitive development all the while building a sense of cohesiveness within a community setting. Fields to Families is one nonprofit organization in the Charleston area always looking for volunteers to help pick unwanted produce to deliver to those in need. The organization’s mission is to “help increase nutrition and ease hunger by coordinating the distribution of fresh produce obtained from local gardens and farms to nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry.” Or pick up the shovel and start your own garden!
Raspberry smoothie- a refreshing summer smoothie packed with antioxidants, fiber, potassium and heart healthy fats
Ingredients: ½ cup milk (lowfat dairy or vanilla almond milk), ½ cup plain yogurt, ½ cup raspberries, ½ banana, tsp honey, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, ice cubes. Blend all ingredients except honey in a blender until smooth, add honey to taste.