Creating Healthy Families, One Child at a Time

Eight weeks may not seem like a long time, but it was the perfect amount of time for four families to learn important lessons regarding nutrition (utilizing the 5-2-1-0 messaging), stress management, emotional eating, and physical activity.

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Beginning in September, four families from the greater Torrington area participated in the second session of the Families Fit Together program. The 8-week program consisted of weekly workshops, held at the Brooker Memorial Child Care Center on Litchfield Street in Torrington. Each workshop incorporated a physical activity lesson, led by Caitlin Rossier, a Fitness Instructor from the NWCT YMCA, as well as a wellness lesson on a variety of topics, such as Fruits & Veggies, Sugar Sweetened Beverages, Smart Snacking, Emotional Eating, and Attacking the Fat in Fast Food. The wellness lessons were led by Carla Angevine, Clinical RD for Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, Nicole Benson, 5210 Fit Together Coordinator, and Victoria Palagy, Psychiatric Clinician for the Center for Youth & Families. The group even enjoyed a visit from local farmer, Laurie Szpak, who introduced the group to the squash family, describing the cultivation process of various gourds, pumpkins, and squash fruits to the kids and parents. She also shared with them her favorite squash recipes and gave each child a squash to take home and eat!

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Families committed to participating for eight weeks, with each workshop lasting about 90 minutes. In each workshop, the kids participated in a 35-minute physical activity lesson or game. These exciting games and activities demonstrated to the kids how much fun exercising can be. Meanwhile, parents joined in on a discussion about creating healthy habits in the home for the whole family. For the last 45 minutes, kids and parents enjoyed an interactive lesson which often involved food tasting or cooking demonstrations. In their final workshop, parents and kids were challenged to remember all that they learned with a fun Jeopardy-style game.

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For more information on how your family can participate in the next Families Fit Together program, please contact your child’s pediatrician for a referral.

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Fit Together Hosts Healthy Celebration and Workshop For 5-2-1-0 Childcare Centers

October 27, 2015

Fit Together hosted a healthy celebration and workshop for all of the childcare centers that participated in our 5-2-1-0 initiative. The purpose of the event was to celebrate the centers’ achievements and to reward participants with certificates, as well as to host a workshop on how to introduce healthy celebrations in each center. During the first year of the initiative, the most common feedback from the centers was that healthy celebrations were one of the most challenging policy changes, and they were often the single obstacle preventing a center from reaching the 5-2-1-0 gold level of recognition.

Principal of East Elementary School Sue Fergusson was the guest speaker of the evening and kicked off the workshop by sharing her experiences with the implementation of healthy celebrations. Fergusson shared that the minute there is a ban, there is likely to be backlash and she provided helpful tips such as using personal stories to connect to families and encouraging subtle awareness through public avenues like the press or newsletters. She also explained that it is important to emphasize that these are events and not a lifestyle, and that it is in the interest of the children’s safety and a lifetime of healthy choices to help them make these decisions starting in early childhood.

The evening concluded with groups rotating to four tables that focused on the different aspects of a healthy celebration, including sugary drinks and oral health, cupcake calculations and healthy substitutes, non-food alternatives, and effective strategies to talk to parents. Several members from the Fit Together Steering Committee and Youth and Families Committee helped to facilitate the tables and event. The evening was designed to allow childcare centers an opportunity to meet and collaborate with those from other centers and also to show the centers the support and resources available from the Fit Together team.

 

KiDSMARATHON Participants Complete Final Mile

On June 13, 2015, over 300 students from 14 local elementary schools completed the final mile of the KiDSMARATHON program. To support the event and add to the celebration, Fit Together and the Northwest CT YMCA hosted booths that promoted healthy eating and active living. Fit Together’s booth featured their sugary drink display, which attracted many curious and subsequently shocked kids and their parents. They also educated about the 5-2-1-0 message and provided boxes of raisins as a healthy snack. The Northwest CT YMCA further promoted the active living message by setting up a practice obstacle run to foster interest in their upcoming fun and challenging WYLD obstacle run.

For more information and pictures from the day, visit Litchfield.bz and for more information about the KiDSMARATHON program in CT, check out their website here.

Southwest School Receives $1,500 Garden Grant from Fit Together & Charlotte Hungerford Hospital

Check presentation to SW School for Nourishing Garden Program

Check presentation to SW School for Nourishing Garden Program

Torrington, CT June 17, 2015: Fit Together and Charlotte Hungerford Hospital presented Southwest Elementary School a check for the school’s Nourishing School Gardens Program.  The objective is to lay the foundation for sustainable health and wellness programs in Torrington’s Public Schools.  The funds will be used for Garden Coordinator stipends, mentoring learning experiences connecting healthy food choices and the health of the community, the environment and the daily lives of students.  The Nourishing School Garden Program allows students to participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting and preparing nutritious seasonal produce.  Judy Theeb, Southwest Elementary School Principal noted, “As educators we have the opportunity to nurture a child’s curiosity and desire to explore the world.  We also have the responsibility to prepare our children for the world of tomorrow.  Our composting and gardening initiatives puts the world at their fingertips.  So much can be learned and studied in this outdoor lab and we are so excited to begin!”

The $1,500 contribution to Southwest School is the third school Fit Together has helped seed a nourishing school garden program.  In December 2014, East and Forbes Schools both received gifts of $1,500 from Fit Together and Litchfield Foods Systems.

According to Carla Angevine, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, ” One of Charlotte Hungerford’s key values is to promote the health of all we serve and believe that partnership with the community is essential to the achievement of shared goals.  We encourage education and participation  in care to maximize health care outcomes.  Helping to fund the Nourishing School Garden program supports our mission and vision for a healthier community.”

Southwest School garden

Southwest School garden

Southwest School garden

Southwest School garden

SNAP-Ed Nutrition Workshop Held on June 4th

On June 4th, 2015, Fit Together co-hosted a SNAP-Ed Nutrition Workshop called “Half Your Plate: Fruits and Veggies,” which focused on increasing quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables in one’s meals. The workshop featured an interactive discussion and a tasting of a healthier take on a waldorf salad, which included yogurt rather than mayonnaise and a variety of both fruits and vegetables. Tips that the nutrition educators offered included how to prep foods for a busy week and what to watch out for on the back of labels.

In order to enter the raffle full of prizes that promoted healthy eating and active living, participants were asked to gather signatures from Fit Together committee members at the 5-2-1-0 tables. At the tables, families learned the meaning of 5-2-1-0 and received recipes and nutrition guidance, alternatives to screen time to boost physical activity, and tips for making props for their children at home. They also were able to taste naturally flavored water with different fruit, vegetables and herbs and see how much sugar is in several popular drinks.

Several participants made positive remarks, stating that they were thinking about ways to become healthier as summer approached and that the workshop served as a useful catalyst for achieving their goals.

This event was made possible by the University of St. Joseph’s grant for SNAP Nutrition Education, the Family Resource Center at the Vogel-Wetmore School, and the Youth and Families Subcommittee of Fit Together.

Arts Walk in Downtown Torrington on First Thursday of Every Month

Fit Together is excited to support the Arts Walk of Downtown Torrington on the first Thursday of every month this summer. Enjoy the guest artisans, art talks, music, refreshments, raffles, sales, and this opportunity to walk around and explore downtown Torrington! To learn more and to view a larger map, visit the Arts Walk website or view more information here.

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East School Builds New Gardens

On May 17, 2015, East School in Torrington, CT expanded their Nourishing School Garden program by building raised beds with donated materials and the help of students and parents. Fit Together and Partners for Sustainable Healthy Communities (formerly Litchfield Hills Food Systems) continue to support the program through a recent donation, and it maintains its success with the help of a supportive administration, directed by principal Susan Fergusson and a local garden coordinator, as well as the dedication of volunteer students and parents shown below.

Before: 

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After:

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