It is no secret that kids share in America's love affair with junk food (I refuse to call it “fast food”, since it is usually neither fast nor worthy of being called food). Educating our children about the benefits of good nutrition and proper exercise is a task well worth attempting. Catching them when they are young is the best way to encourage the adults of tomorrow to practice better eating and living habits and so establish a positive trend.
Of course we, as parents, are some of the biggest obstacles to this noble goal. In this age of dual income households, and single parent households, who has time anymore for good traditional home cooked meals? Not many of us, and even those who do find themselves stretched and stressed to accomplish it.
Kids watch adults to learn behavior. They model themselves on us, whether they know it or not. If a parent smokes or drinks, the child, as they grow up, is likely to smoke or drink as well. The same is true for other patterns of behavior, such as aggressive driving, bullying or poor dietary habits. Setting a good example is important, but oh, so hard to do sometimes.
Even then when much effort has been expended trying to teach the benefits of proper nutrition, we are faced by an ever mounting wall of deliberate misinformation and propaganda in the form of multi million dollar advertising all designed to lure kids (and us) into some form of unhealthy indulgence. How can we ever win?
Well, some schools are trying.
And school assemblies can help.
A well produced show about how cool it is to eat healthy food can do wonders. So can something along the same lines but dealing with exercise (though kids don't usually need much encouragement in this area!). Seek them out. These shows can be especially beneficial when combined with a general anti substance abuse campaign for Red Ribbon Week.
One avenue to pursue is with programs that encourage exercise through demonstrations by an ultra cool skate boarding team. There are a lot of these groups available. Their shows primarily consist of skateboarders showing off all their cool moves but they put in a heavy plug for whatever theme you want emphasized. We never really saw the benefit of this for supporting science, but for promoting physical fitness you couldn't ask for anything better.
Sadly, Mobile Ed no longer offers a program in this area. We did for years in the form of our pair of Bodyworks programs that dealt with, literally, how the human body works. They were great shows! Unfortunately, the wear and tear of constant performance and road travel took a toll of the large, oversized foam props we had used in the programs, along with the various other set pieces. Currently both shows are “on the shelf” awaiting a planned re-fit.
In the meantime, if this is an area you wish to pursue, look around and do a little digging. There are other shows available from other companies, that deal specifically with health and nutrition. But do be advised! This is also an area where our not so friendly adversary “the magic show in drag” may rear its unwanted head. Beware, Get references. One avenue you might pursue is to investigate local hospitals as many have been known to assist schools with programs that address this subject directly.
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN. He also spent ten years coordinating assembly programs for the elementary school where his own children went to school.