12 Days of Health at Emerson: Challenging ourselves to a healthy holiday season!

Alivia, an energetic second grader at Emerson, taking the jumping jack challenge!

Alivia, an energetic second grader at Emerson, taking the jumping jack challenge!

By Abby Temple

The Emerson Health and Wellness team sat in our monthly meeting, envisioning the cupcake, candy and cookie filled weeks ahead of us. Holiday celebrations present a dilemma for a nutrition/health educator based in an elementary school—how can we encourage our students to make healthy choices while also recognizing the need for celebrations, for special treats, and for a fun ending to a difficult few months of work? How can we stray from labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” and instead, focus on moderation and “sometimes” foods? With these goals in mind,  our team, composed of myself, my co-educator Ms. Paula, a second grade teacher, our P.E. teacher and one of our ELL teachers, came up with the idea of a “12 Days of Health” promotion for the school.

For the 12 days leading up to winter break, our students were given a challenge each day over the morning announcements. The challenges were as follows:

Day 1: One special treat for working so hard!

Day 2: Two push-ups!

Day 3: Three laps around the black top!

Day 4: Four glasses of water!

Day 5: Five minutes of stretching!

Day 6: Six toe-touches!

Day 7: Seven colors of food in your day!

Day 8: Eight squats!

Day 9: Nine high-knees!

Day 10: Ten jumping jacks!

Day 11: Eleven lunges!

Day 12: Twelve minutes of dancing!

For 12 days, Emerson’s morning announcements were dominated by the lovely singing voices of our Emerson staff. We took turns on the announcements each day, singing the challenge to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” The kids especially loved hearing their P.E. teacher singing—it was quite a treat in itself. I was surprised how many students I actually saw participating in and excited about the challenges. Students stopped me in the hallway to show me their jumping jacks and lunges.  I heard water described as “the most delicious drink ever!” On day twelve, our health challenge culminated in a 12 minute dance party with our first graders. I may have enjoyed the dancing even more than they did. Our super healthy Emerson students are on a great track to a healthy and fun winter break! Happy winter break, Emerson!

Neighborhood Restoration Project Led by Feet First Members is a Clean Sweep!

A few weeks ago, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Apple Corps Members Zoe and Drew, who serve with the walking initiative organization Feet First, led a successful service project at Olympic Hills Elementary School in Northeast Seattle. Drew, Feet First’s Walking Promotions Coordinator, wrote a great article about their day of service which we are excited to share on our blog. To learn more about the work Feet First does around Seattle stop by their website here.

The following article was written by Drew Devitis at Feet First:

On a cool, crisp January morning, twenty volunteers gathered at Seattle’s Olympic Hills Elementary School to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and serve the greater community at large. Several compassionate volunteers from Seattle Children’s Hospital and UW Radiology, along with some independent volunteers, joined Feet First in cleaning up the route of a Walking School Bus, a parent-led walking group that leads students to school on “Two Feet Tuesdays”. The passion and commitment from these volunteers definitely fit the character of the day, and the creative altruism that MLK, Jr. espoused.

The focus of the volunteer project was on cleaning up a staircase and walkway within yards of Olympic Hills Elementary, which is one of four Seattle schools currently participating in a Safe Routes to School initiative supported by Feet First. This walkway had fallen into disarray over the past several years. Thorny blackberry bushes and wild entanglements of English ivy had been steadily encroaching upon the stairs, making it feel like an uninviting place for kids walking to school. Moreover, rain soaked leaves, slippery pine needles, and other debris littered the walkway, making it potentially hazardous for children and adults alike.

Before:After 1

In order to approach the task at hand, volunteers formed two separate work groups. One set of volunteers, armed with rakes, brooms, and clippers, tended to cleaning the walkway and trimming the vegetative growth that was encroaching the stairs. The other group, equipped with loppers and shovels, concentrated on removing a thick patch of blackberry bushes, which had overtaken the bottom of the staircase, and made the path feel like a rather uninviting place. After a few hours of hard work, the staircase and walkway became a much more appealing place to walk.

By the end of the day, volunteers had impressively filled up an entire dumpster with invasive species and assorted yard waste. The stairs, which had been obscured by the thicket of blackberries, are now clearly visible from the street. Additionally, mulch was spread throughout the site where the blackberry bushes had once been, creating a warm, pleasing feel.  A neighbor driving by in her car even stopped to get out and thank the volunteers for all their hard work in transforming this public walkway into a more pleasant, welcoming space.

“You would be surprised how much of a difference a clean, inviting walkway can make to enrich the experience for kids walking to school,” says Jen Cole, Safe Routes to School Program Director. “The effort to clean this once untidy walkway, combined with the installation of safety flag buckets in the nearby area, will really go a long way to make the Olympic Hills neighborhood safer for walking.”


My, where did they all come from?”


From the very generous efforts of Emerson students is where! In celebration of Halloween this year Apple Corps members Lisa and Brian organized a Candy Collection Charity. As an effort to encourage a healthy holiday students were put to the challenge of donating all, or a portion of their ‘trick or treating’ bounty. Emerson was motivated by partaking in an act of kindness through donating all their candy to military personnel overseas. As a further motivating factor, and to be less like Cruella De Vil, a smoothie party was awarded to the classroom that collected the most candy.


Halloween Day students at Emerson took part in an interactive squash activity that included estimating the amount of seeds in their respective squashes. Though the big day was Nov. 1st. Students came pouring into the school doors lugging their haul of candy from the night before. Lisa and Brian went classroom to classroom to collect their donations and put them up on the scale to get a weight count. The total candy count came out to an astonishing 121 pounds! That’s 121 pounds of candy that will not be eaten by students this year, 121 pounds of candy that will serve as a sweet reminder of home for military people, and 121 pounds of lifting for Lisa and Brian! The entire school community was thrilled to see such great effort put forth, way to go Emerson Eagles!


As an equally generous contributor to this promotion, we would like to thank Seattle Kids Dentistry (http://www.seattlekidsdentistry.com) for graciously offering to pay for and process the shipping of our candy donation!