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Special School District of St. Louis County
 
Take 5: SSD health services nurse Deb D’Arcy answers five health and wellness questions for families
What do you consider the biggest health concern for children today?
Definitely adequate nutrition and intake of nutrient-dense foods. Children need to eat foods high in nutritional value like fruits and veggies, and not candy, chips and soda.

How can we tackle this issue?
I think we need to educate families, students and faculty about goals on good nutrition for students. I also think by taking good care of ourselves we can be good role models. Good nutrition is a life skill that all students need to learn.

What are the health and wellness priorities at SSD?
This year we are really looking closely at nutrition. We are looking at everything – parties, school lunches, fundraisers and vending machines. Right now we are assessing and a nutrition committee will develop recommendations. For example, we want to have healthy choices at school parties. We may also look at other ways besides selling food that might not be the healthiest options for fundraisers.

Do you have any tips and tricks to get children to eat healthier?
First of all, it’s okay to play with your food. Sometimes that’s the first step to get children to eat new food. They need to explore it. They may not eat it that first time, but if you offer it at least 10 times they are more likely to actually try the food and even like it. That is for the picky eater.

Also, make food fun. Use fun food presentation, like ants on a log. It’s always fun if kids can help make their own snack.

Another idea is to incorporate healthy items into your recipes. Try adding spinach into lasagna or bulgur wheat into meatballs.

Really, just sit down and make it a priority to eat together as a family three times a week. Try to incorporate everyone into preparing the meal to the best of their abilities.

If families could make one change to improve their health, what would you recommend?
Try to be active together. Walk together, try jumping rope, hiking or get out some hula-hoops. Just be active and have some fun together.
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Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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