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Improving children's health, wellness
RUMFORD -- The staff at Miss Maureen's Preschool have been working with Lani Bisson and the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition on ways to improve the health and wellness for children.
Bisson, a volunteer with RVHCC, attended an eight-hour training session through Healthy Maine Partners in a program called NAPSACK (Nutrition and Physical Activities Self-Assessment for Child Care).
Once an action plan has been developed, Bisson said there is a possiblity of some implementation funding from Healthy Maine Partners, which also offers teleconferences once a month.
Once she received her training, Bisson immediately approached Miss Maureen's Preschool with the idea as both her and her husband attended the long-running school as kids, and now their own kids are students.
Last week, armed with her laptop, Bisson went over some ideas she developed to discuss with Miss Maureen's Preschool staff members Amanda Jones, Tina Simoneau and Monique Fournier.
Regarding this experience, Bisson noted, "This is awesome. Just raising awareness is key to families, to carry on throughout their lives."
Simoneau, who has worked here for 17 years, noted things have changed a lot from her early years here when they would serve juice and cookies. Now they offer children water and refills, or just a bit of juice. Children are taking the water.
"Water is accepted and encouraged. We're just making children aware about what they eat," she said.
Bisson said they began with a self-assessment action plan, then discussions on topics like television and children, exercises for children, and working with families.
Upcoming sessions will include personal health, healthy eating, and childhood obesity.
Simoneau said some ideas they have talked about for children here (ages two and a half to five) include rugs for hop scotch, ribbons for the arms and cones to create little obstacle courses.
They also have been including handouts and information with their newsletters.
In their March newsletter, for example, were some alternative activities parents can do with their children instead of television time. These include reading a book, playing hide and seek, being creative with construction paper and glue, playing a board or card game, and making a book with family photos and simple words.
The idea is not to give up TV entirely, but to keep it under control. Other suggestions include take TVs and computers out of children's bedrooms, plan your TV watching and don't channel surf, watch TV as a family to make it a special time together, and leave the TV off during meals.
Lani Bisson (left), a volunteer with the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, works with Miss Maureen's Preschool staff members Amanda Jones, Tina Simoneau and Monique Fournier on an action plan to improve the health and wellness for children. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)