Learning for Life: Map Teaches Healthy Habits

With the goal of talking about smart eating and exercise habits with children and parents across our region, ProMedica’s Healthy Kids Conversation Map® program has reached more than 4,000 youngsters and adults throughout northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan since 2009.

Taught in schools, community organizations and faith-based organizations, the program includes colorful, game-like maps and scripted guides to aid discussions about childhood nutrition and healthy habits. The program is taught to elementary students in schools and summer programs.

The Healthy Kids Conversation Map® empowers children in grades 1 – 3 and grades 4 – 6 to make good decisions related to eating and physical activity. Half-hour modules are provided to cover key areas related to:

  • What to eat and drink to stay healthy. The key is to fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit at every meal, and drink water instead of sugary drinks.
  • How to read food labels. Look for foods with higher fiber content, and limit foods with sugar – including syrup, fructose and sucrose – listed as one of the first three ingredients.
  • Media influences. Don’t be tricked into buying based on advertising. Purchase food based on its health benefits.
  • Eating mindfully and portion control. Plan ahead, pack healthy snacks, wait 20 minutes before going back for seconds, and only eat when you’re hungry.
  • The importance of physical activity. Children should get exercise for at least 60 minutes daily, and adults should get at least 30 minutes. This can be done in shorter blocks of time that add up to the goal.
  • Limiting screen time. Spend only one hour a day, including TV, video games, computer time, and other handheld electronic devices.
  • Getting enough sleep. Go to bed and get up the same time every day. Younger children should get at least 10 hours of sleep.

The program is available to all schools in ProMedica’s 27-county service area, It has been taught in Toledo Public Schools, including some independent Toledo academies; Springfield Local Schools; Oregon City Schools; Fostoria City and Parochial Schools; Adrian Schools; Washington Local Schools, Diocese of Toledo Schools; Defiance Elementary School; and Maumee Public Schools.

The program is facilitated by trained ProMedica staff volunteering their time to help students and their families understand healthy behaviors that can make a difference in their health and well-being. ProMedica also received a two-year grant through the United Way of Greater Toledo to teach staff at local social service agencies and non-profits how to use the maps to lead sessions.

To learn more about the Healthy Kids Conversation Map® program, please visit www.promedica.org/HealthyConversationMaps. For more information about how the program can help children and adults in your community, contact Gaye Martin, manager, mission services, at 419-469-3704 or gaye.martin@promedica.org.