MANHATTAN, Kan. – There’s no need for more wishful thinking. Children who’ve enjoyed tagging along with parents in K-State’s Walk Kansas program can now participate in Walk Kansas for Kids.
The program is modeled after K-State’s adult fitness challenge, with added age-appropriate goals, said Tanda Kidd, K-State Research and Extension nutrition and physical activity specialist who has developed resources for the program.
While also an eight-week program, Walk Kansas for Kids is designed for year-round use and can be incorporated into school, after-school, community and faith-based programs, said Kidd, who explained that a family can do it as well.
Walk Kansas for Kids offers two levels of age-appropriate weekly newsletters that reinforce health behavior messages. The primary level is intended for first- through third-grade students; the intermediate level serves fourth- through sixth-graders.
Youth participants earn checks for physical activity; for choosing health-promoting foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products; checks for choosing water, rather than high-calorie beverages, and for reducing screen time via TV, video games and computers. Each check mark is equivalent to one Walk Kansas mile.
In adapting Walk Kansas for Kids to the classroom, team size is not limited, said Kidd, who added that class size can affect the length of time it takes to cover the 423 miles that would be equivalent to walking across Kansas. The larger the class, the faster kids will “walk” across the state.
Once that’s done, she said, classes can choose another destination and count miles until they reach their destination.
Choosing various destinations also helps expand a child’s view of the larger world, and open the door for learning about geography, regional foods, other people and their cultures.
Early learned behaviors can serve as a foundation for an active, healthy lifestyle, said Kidd. The year-long option is intended to reinforce healthy physical activity and eating habits.
She noted that the increase in obesity in youth must be addressed.
“You are what you eat,” said Kidd, who offered the example of a simple change such as giving up one 150-calorie-a-day beverage (which, for children and teens often is a carbonated beverage) can result in a 15-pound weight loss in a year’s time.
Reducing what Kidd calls “mindless eating” -- carrying around a bag of chips and nibbling as you go, rather than putting a recommended serving into a bowl or dish, is a small change that can yield big dividends.
More information about Walk Kansas for Kids and incorporating it into family and community-based programs is available at K-State Research and Extension offices in each of Kansas’ 105 counties, and online at Walk Kansas for Kids. More information about children’s and family food, nutrition and health also is available at K-State Research and Extension offices and online at Human Nutrition.
K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.
Story by: Nancy Petersonnancyp@ksu.eduK-State Research & Extension News
Tanda Kidd is at 785-532-0154 or firstname.lastname@example.org