Grant to Expand Healthy Living Lessons at PPCS

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By Samantha Malott
From Moscow-Pullman Daily News
August 1, 2014

The Palouse Prairie School of Expeditionary Learning will expand its “Adventure Friday” program this upcoming school year, thanks to a $20,000 grant from Champions for Healthy Kids.

The grant, funded by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation and the General Mills Foundation, will provide opportunities to include nutrition lessons from a University of Idaho registered dietician into the school’s weekly “Adventure Friday” program, said Jeneille Branen, director of curriculum and instruction at PPSEL.

The grant will also provide funding for two new class sets of snow shoes for winter adventure activities and money to install polycarbonate panels to the school’s greenhouse, Branen said.

Snow shoeing is one of the many activities under the school’s adventure program. Last year, Branen said students did a range of physical activities, including rock climbing and bike riding.

The program at the kindergarten through eighth-grade school runs on a five-week rotation, so only a few classes at a time are going out on Fridays. The program brings in local experts for whatever activity is planned that week, such as local police officers who might teach students about bike safety before they head out on trails, Branen said.

“We saw as a result of it, parents taking their families out and doing those activities together,” Branen said, adding it was exciting to see the families picking up the activities outside of school.

With the grant, she said, the school will be able to add in a nutritional aspect to the program, such as how to properly fuel oneself before going on a bike ride. Dr. Samantha Ramsay, from the UI Margaret Ritchie School of Family and Consumer Sciences, will come in every Tuesday to meet with classes participating in “Adventure Friday” and give tips and handouts on healthy meal and snack choices that will help keep them nourished during long physical activities, Branen said.

“We are going to encourage the students and families to take that information into how they pack their lunches for the adventures,” she said. “I’m most excited for students to see the connection between nutrition and physical activity in a real world application. I think they are more likely to apply it in their everyday life and not just inside the school setting.”

Branen said PPSEL implemented a new lunch program a few years back that used a lot of locally grown produce that received a positive reception from students and families, but there may still be a lack of nutritional education in the school. The grant will help make up that gap.

With the new paneling on the green house, students will be able to expand the growing season of various fruits and vegetables. Branen said they will hold lunch time food sampling sessions as some of the foods they grow ripen.

“The type of school we are, we have a lot of families that care deeply about nutrition education,” she said. “This is a really novel way to get the information out and apply it in their life, not just leave it in the classroom.”