By John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications and Fraud
As a child of the 1980’s I vividly remember looking forward to taking my daily “Flintstones” vitamin. It was such an ingrained part of my daily ritual that I can recall being disappointed when my mother shook an orange Barney — not my preferred purple Dino — out of the brightly-colored bottle at breakfast. Many of my fellow Generation X’ers tell me they did the exact same thing as children. Why? Because “common knowledge” was that kids should take their daily vitamins, a message reinforced by frequent marketing on children’s television shows.
As a 33-year old father of two today, I’m hypersensitive about my kids’ health. I compare labels on cereal boxes at the grocery store. I try to steer them towards healthy snacks instead of the rapidly dwindling supply of leftover Halloween candy. Instead of a daily Flintstones vitamin, I try to make sure they get servings of fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal. Why? Because “common knowledge” about kids nutrition has been replaced by a near-infinite supply of information online. Instead of relying a word-of-mouth, marketing, and infrequent advice from a pediatrician, I can stay up to date on the latest developments in children’s nutrition at the touch of a button.
With a growing obesity epidemic in America, particularly among teens, the value of this information is greater than ever. This is why one of the five sections of NCL’s LifeSmarts curriculum is devoted to health and safety. LifeSmarts participants gain an understanding of the value of a healthy lifestyle and the tools to help them achieve it. Teens in the LifeSmarts program study a variety of topics in this part of the curriculum, including how to effectively compare nutrition labels, what to do in case of a food recall, and what kinds of foods are best for maintaining a healthy weight.
The goal of the LifeSmarts health and safety curriculum is to reach teens at a critical juncture in their young lives, when they are developing the consumer habits that they will likely maintain for a lifetime. This information is conveyed in a fun, competitive manner that helps teens stay focused on the topic areas and feel real accomplishment in their progress.
For more information on LifeSmarts’ health and safety curriculum and to learn how you can organize a LifeSmarts team in your own schools, please visit www.LifeSmarts.org.