All Fats Are Not Created Equal!

Lesson Introduction & Overview

Fat is an important nutrient, but you only need small amounts each day. It gives you energy and helps your body grow. Here are some of the important jobs fats do:

• Give you energy: During exercise your body uses carbohydrates for fuel for about 20 minutes. After that your body depends on fat to keep going.
• Keeps your skin and hair healthy.
• Helps you absorb vitamins A, D, E and K.
• Fills your fat cells and helps keep you warm.
• Helps your brain grow and adapt as you learn new information and have new experiences.
• Helps regulate blood sugar so your energy level stays even instead of bouncing all over the place.
• Keeps you feeling satisfied so you don’t overeat.

Not all fats are “good” fats:

Trans fats are made when vegetable oils are processed (or hydrogenated) into shortening and stick margarine. Sources of trans fats include snack foods, baked goods and fried foods made with “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “vegetable shortening.”

Try to limit foods made with these ingredients. Trans fats can raise your cholesterol.

Saturated fats are most often found in foods that are solid at room temperature, like butter, cheese, palm and coconut oil and red meats.

Limit the amount of saturated fat and trans fat you have each day. This will help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Unsaturated fats, the healthy types of fats, come from both animal and plant products. There are two types:

  • monounsaturated fats come from seeds or nuts such as avocado, olive, peanut and canola oils. Monounsaturated fat, in the right amounts, may reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). They are liquid at room temperature.
  • polyunsaturated fats come from vegetables, seeds or nuts such as corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed and sesame seed oils. Polyunsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol if you use them in place of saturated fats.

This lesson introduces young people to the importance of including fats in their diets and choosing the most healthful types.


Lead a conversation based on the following questions:

  • What kinds of things have you heard (from your family, friends, media, health care providers, school, etc.) about fats in food?
  • Is the information you’re getting about fats from food labels easy to understand? Why or why not?
  • Is the information you’re getting about fats in food helpful to you when you’re choosing what to eat?
  • What questions do you have about fats in food?

Introduce the types of fats: Trans fats, saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (use the information above).

Prepare a sampling of snack options with healthy fats, such as: walnuts or other nuts, olives, bread dipped in olive oil, dark chocolate, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, vegetables dipped in hummus made with healthy fats (be sure to check the label).

Invite young people to complete the healthy fats word find while enjoying tasting the different foods.

Lead a reflection discussion:

  • Which foods did you like best?
  • Were there any you didn’t like?
  • Had you eaten any of these foods before?
  • What do you usually eat for snacks?
  • Are there any of these foods you’d like to eat more often?


Close by letting young people know that in addition to healthy fats, their bodies need protein and carbohydrates (such as vegetables and fruits) as well. It’s recommended that fats make up about 25 to 30 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake. Consider following this lesson with the Health Powered Kids lesson on learning to read nutrition labels.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in EnglishSpanish, Somali and Hmong so that families can learn about healthy fats at home.

Learning Mindfulness through Movement

Lesson Introduction & Overview

Young people begin to learn about mindfulness practice by learning and then moving through a series of yoga poses.


  1. Prepare young people for their yoga practice with the follow discussion questions and topics:
    1. Do you know what yoga is? Have you done it before? Wait for answers, allow youth to demonstrate poses if they know any, and then explain that yoga is a way to exercise your body, your breath and your mind all at the same time. There are many different types of yoga and ways to do yoga.
    2. Have you ever heard anyone talk about something called mindfulness? Do you know why mindfulness can be a good thing? Wait for answers and then explain that mindfulness means paying attention to and noticing what’s happening—such as things you’re seeing, hearing and feeling—without deciding if they are good or bad. Mindfulness can help you be happier and healthier. If you are being mindful, you are less likely to get really upset or sad and more likely to be calm and happy. It’s not something that’s always easy, but anyone can learn to do it.
  2. Explain that an important part of yoga is paying attention to your breath. Ask young people to lie down on the floor and then give the following instructions for noticing their breathing: Place your hands on your belly. Breathe in deeply through your nose and feel your belly rise. Hold for just a second while your belly is filled with air, and then slowly breathe out through your mouth. Do this five more times. Invite young people to try to continue this same breathing pattern throughout their yoga practice.
  3. Teach young people each of the eight yoga poses they will be doing in their practice. Do this part fairly quickly so you can get to the actual sequenced practice. It’s okay if young people don’t catch on right away and need more instruction during the sequence. Yoga is an ongoing practice and there is no exact right way to do a pose. Unless a young person is at risk of hurting themselves, if they are pretty close to the pose let them be.

Sun Breath

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed or in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Sit up tall and keep your back straight.
  2. Put the palms of your hands together at the center of your chest.
  3. Close your eyes and take three big sun breaths. Here’s how:
    • When you breathe in deeply, raise your arms above your head in the shape of a big round sun.
    • Then breathe out and bring your arms back down so that your palms are together at the center of your chest.
  4. The sun breath allows you to become centered and focused on your breath.

Space Float

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed or in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Take hold of your outside ankle. If you are sitting on a chair, hold onto the edges of the chair by the outside of your legs, above the knees.
  3. Breathe in deeply as you stretch your body forward, chest and stomach out.
  4. Breathe out as you slump back; spine is curved, chest is caved in.
  5. Space float gives you a flexible spine. It keeps your back muscles relaxed and strong. It also helps you digest your food.

Shooting Star

  1. Sit on the floor with your feet in front of you and your hands behind you on the floor.
  2. Breathe in and push your body up (like a backwards push-up).
  3. Make yourself into a perfectly straight line, like a shooting star, by pushing your stomach up and point your toes away from you.
  4. Try to hold this pose for a count of 10. (You can hold this pose longer during the sequenced practice).
  5. Shooting star makes your arms, legs and stomach muscles strong.
  6. You can also do this pose while sitting in a chair. Hold the edges of the chair and push up like the description above.

Moon Walk

  1. Sit in your chair or lie down on the floor on your back.
  2. Begin to walk in the air. Keep your right leg straight and lift it up as you lift your left arm. Breathe in as you lift your leg and arm.
  3. Breathe out as your arm and leg go down.
  4. Then breathe in again as you lift your left leg and right arm together.
  5. Breathe out as your arm and leg go down.
  6. Switch sides and keep going. Lift your leg and stretch your arm straight up toward the sky.
  7. Moon walk balances the two sides of your brain and helps you think better.


  1. Lie on your stomach on the floor. If you are sitting in a chair, sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Put your hands on the floor under your shoulders. If you are sitting in a chair, put your hands on your knees or a desk.
  3. Stretch your upper body up high, with your arms straight and your stomach resting on the ground. If you are sitting, lean forward slightly, push your hands against your knees or desk and push your shoulders back to look up slightly. Keep your neck straight and in line with your spine.
  4. Stretch your head as far up as you can and HISS! Feel the stretch in your spine.
  5. You are a very fierce cobra snake!
  6. Keep stretching and breathing in and out. Make a hissing sound when you breathe out. Continue this breathing and hissing for a minute.
  7. If you are on the floor, breathe in and lift your “tail” (feet) up by bending your knees. Try to bring your head and “tail” (feet) close together. Can they touch each other?


  1. Stand up.
  2. Bend forward with your arms hanging down.
  3. Clasp your hands together, with fingers interlocked.
  4. Walk around the room, bent over, and swing your trunk.
  5. After a minute, stretch your trunk high up into the air. Lean back and let out a big elephant sound like a horn!

Relaxed Monkey Pose

  1. Kneel on the floor on your knees and sit back on your heels. If you are sitting in a chair, keep your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lean forward and stretch your arms forward to the ground. Continue stretching as far as you can. Can you touch your forehead to the floor? If you are sitting on a chair, just reach down to the floor as far as you can.
  3. Stretch your arms out as far as they will go; allow your body to relax.
  4. Take in big monkey breaths. Feel your chest rise with each breath in and your chest relax toward the floor with each breath out. Breathe in and out at your own pace. Relax for one minute.

Sea Turtle Deep Relaxation

  1. Lie on the floor on your back with your legs straight and arms at your sides. Or sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on your desk or lap.
  2. The palms of your hands are facing up and resting on the floor, desk or lap.
  3. Close your eyes and breathe gently.
  4. Focus on your breath. If you have any thoughts or distractions, try to let them go and go back to focusing on your breath.
  5. You might need a word to focus on or a favorite place to imagine like lying or sitting on a beach. Imagine the warm sand, the hot sun and the cool breeze off the water. Your breath sounds like the waves! As you breathe in, listen! It sounds like the waves coming up to the shore. As you breathe out, imagine the waves going back out to sea. Keep breathing with the waves for another minute or two.

Move through the eight poses in a guided sequence.

At the end of Sea Turtle, give young people time to slowly sit back up. Ask each person to share with the group one thing they noticed during their yoga practice. Thank everyone for participating.


A nice practice in mindfulness is gratitude. At the end of your activity, thank young people for participating and express your appreciation for some aspect of what happened.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in EnglishSpanish, Somali and Hmong so that families can practice mindfulness through movement at home.

What We Can Do to Stress Less

Lesson Introduction & Overview

This short lesson is aimed at getting youth to think about their responses to stressful or challenging situations, and to respond positively rather than by adding to the difficulty.


1. Show the What Pizza Wears Gloves video and The Two Arrows Explainer video.

2. Talk briefly about what they noticed and what they thought about these two videos. Ask if anyone has any questions about them.

3. Then ask about stress:

  • Do you ever feel stressed out? Have you ever felt like the Pizza or the person who dropped the lunch tray? What does stress feel like in your body and in your thoughts?
  • What causes stress in your life?
  • Do your family members or friends ever get stressed? How can you tell? How do they act?
  • What do you think causes stress for other people?

4. Then talk about how the videos mention “mindfulness” and “Change to Chill.” Ask youth if they’ve ever heard those terms before and what they think they mean. Talk about their ideas and share your own.

5. Show the youth the pens, sticky notes and wall space. Explain that as a group you are going to write as many ideas as you can about how to stress less or deal with stress when it comes up. Give some examples like, “go for a run,” “listen to music,” or “make slime with your friends.”

6. Give youth a chance to post their own ideas and read through others. Talk briefly about:

  • What’s your favorite way to de-stress?
  • Did you get any new ideas today?
  • What’s one thing you might like to try next time you feel stressed out?


Keep the wall of notes up for as long as seems helpful. Consider also sharing the ideas through social media or school resources.

Additional Resources:

Additional videos:

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in EnglishSpanish, Somali and Hmong so that families can stress less at home.

Gratefuls and Grumbles: Helping Kids Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

Lesson Introduction & Overview

Emerging research shows many powerful benefits of approaching life with an attitude of gratitude. The benefits of being grateful can include mental wellness, school success, generosity, and even physical health. An attitude of gratitude isn’t something that people are born with or not; very young children can begin to learn skills and practices that will help them move through life with an appreciative mindset, even when dealing with challenges. This lesson focuses on teaching young children about the concept of gratitude and some ways they can start to incorporate gratitude practices into their lives.


Gratefuls and Grumbles Circle

Gather young people in circle. Explain that you are going to spend a little time thinking about gratitude. Ask if any of them know that word and what it means. If they don’t, tell them that being grateful or feeling gratitude means being thankful. Ask what they think of when they hear the word thankful or thanks. Give them a few minutes to talk about what it means.

Share with the young people that every day you personally have things in your life that make you feel gratitude, or thankful. Give an example from today.

Then explain that every day you also have things that happen that feel hard, that make you grumble. Ask if they know the word grumble. Talk for a few minutes about some examples of grumbles, ranging from small irritations to bigger worries or troubles. Give a few examples.

Then explain the activity: Each person in the circle is going to have a chance to share with the group one GRATEFUL and one GRUMBLE. You can say something like, “When it’s your turn, say your name. Then say, ‘One thing I am grateful for today is _________, and one thing that makes me grumble today is, ___________.” Give your own example using your name and a grateful and a grumble you shared earlier.

Begin the activity. Younger children may have a hard time with this. Be patient and coach them through it. Remember that you are teaching them a process. It’s okay if they stumble.

At the end, thank everyone for participating. Explain that even when we can’t make the grumbles go away, thinking about things we’re grateful for can help us feel better.

Gratitude Breathing: 

Once everyone has shared, transition into a breathing exercise that focuses on gratitude. You can explain it like this:

Choose a way to sit that’s comfortable for you. You can be on chair, cross-legged, or on your heels. Place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in for four counts. Then breathe out through your nose for four counts. Keep your lips closed and just let the air move through your nose. Feel the rise and fall of your chest and belly.”

You can use a Hoberman sphere to demonstrate to the young people what their chests and bellies will be doing when they breathe in and out.

Once they have the idea of how to do the breathing, ask them to think of some of the things they said they are grateful for during each inhale and exhale. They may even get a few more ideas as they go through the process.

Continue this deep belly gratitude breathing for a few minutes. Let them know it’s okay to close their eyes if they want to.

Pay It Forward: 

Draw young people’s attention back to you. Ask if anyone thought during their breathing of a person for whom they are grateful.  Explain that it’s important to let other people know when we’re grateful for them or for things they do. It makes them feel good, it makes us feel good, and it makes the world a better place when people show appreciation for one another. Pick one person in your school, organization or community who you want to show gratitude for as a group. You can pre-select this person, or use a group process. On the flip chart or butcher paper, write, “Thank you, _______________, for ___________________.  We are grateful for you! Or choose a message of your own. Then invite each young person to use the paints to leave a handprint on the paper. Once the paint is dry you can deliver the “Gratitude card” to the recipient.



Like physical fitness, gratitude is something that has to be built and maintained. Fortunately, also like fitness, it’s something everyone can work on, no matter where they are starting. Different practices work more or less for different people. The activities in this lesson are just a few examples. The parent newsletter has additional ideas. Consider making gratitude practice a regular part of your classroom or group and see what happens!

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English and Spanish so that families can practice an attitude of gratitude at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

An Attitude of Gratitude

Additional Instructor Resources

Backpack Safety: That’s a Thing???

Lesson Introduction & Overview

Backpacks are a great way to carry stuff: books, homework and other items for school, sports gear, or general belongings. But backpacks can also pose problems if they aren’t used and worn correctly.

Backpacks that are too heavy, aren’t worn properly or have uneven weight distribution can cause muscle and joint aches and pains, posture problems, and even injury. This lesson focuses on the “Dos and Don’ts of Backpacks” so that young people can fix current problems and prevent future ones.

Begin by facilitating a conversation about backpacks using the following questions:

  1. How many of you use a backpack?
  2. If you don’t, how do you carry books and homework to and from school?
  3. Have any of you ever had a problem with a backpack? (They might say things like a strap broke, they lost it, they forgot it somewhere). How about a physical problem with a backpack, like a sore neck or back? (Give them some time to answer.)

Then explain that there are some dos and don’ts when it comes to backpacks that can help them avoid injury, and that they’re going to learn about them today.


Guess the Weight (need to have a few backpacks prepared and also give students the opportunity to have their backpacks weighed):

Most backpack injuries happen because the bag is too heavy. Your backpack should not weigh more than 15 percent of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, your backpack should not weigh more than 18 pounds.

Give the young people a few minutes to calculate 15 percent of their body weight. They can just use an estimate and they don’t need to share this information.

If your backpack is too heavy, you might start to arch your back, lean forward, or lean to one side.

Ask: What do you think might happen if you do any or all of these things? Wait for some answers and if they aren’t mentioned, talk about:

Neck and upper back: If you lean forward and extend your neck because your bag is so heavy, your neck and shoulders can get sore and it is hard on your muscles and ligaments.

Shoulders: A heavy backpack puts pressure on shoulder joints, muscles tighten and your posture changes.

Lower back and hips: Leaning forward to offset the weight of a heavy bag doesn’t just hurt your neck, it can also cause problems in your lower back. At the same time as you’re leaning forward, the backpack is pulling you back which can cause strain and soreness in your hips.

Knees: Your knees can even feel the pressure of too much backpack weight, especially if you change your posture and your gait (the way you walk) because of it.

After you’ve introduced the possible problems, pull out the scale and the demonstration backpacks you’ve prepared. Ask for a volunteer to be pre-weighed (or use a luggage scale). You’ll get a starting weight for this person and then have him or her step on the scale and be weighed with each different backpack.

Ask the young people to guess the weight of each backpack before weighing it. You can do this in a variety of ways depending on your resources: people can simply call out their guesses; they can write each guess on a piece of paper or a white board; you can play a Kahoot!® game if you have that technology. Use whatever works best for you in your setting.

Then weigh each backpack to see how close the guesses were. To calculate the weight of a backpack, subtract the starting weight of the person from the weight of the person with the backpack. Also calculate the percentage to see if that backpack is at the right weight for that person.

If time allows, weigh each person’s backpack.

You’re Carrying That?! Facilitate a brief discussion of what kinds of things young people carry in their backpacks and whether they are necessary or not. Then play a little game: Who Has a _______ in Their Backpack? As you name different items, young people who have that item in their backpacks should pull them out and hold them up:
Text book
Personal book
Charm or good luck item
Homework from last semester (or year or month)
Art project
Phone or other electronic
Pencil or pens
Water bottle (who has the smallest one? who has the biggest one?)
Toy or game
Sports equipment
Music of some sort
Add your own! (You might want to have a contest for strangest item and have the young people vote on it.)

Getting the Right Fit: Ask young people to work in pairs to help each other get the best fit out of their backpacks that they can. If someone doesn’t have a backpack, they can join a pair to form a group of three. Have each young person take a turn being fitted and being a fitter. Here are the guidelines they should follow:
Wear both straps. They should fit comfortably on your shoulders and under your arms.
Adjust the straps so the bottom of the backpack rests In the contour of your lower back. Don’t let it sag down toward your butt.
Adjust the straps so the backpack is centered evenly in the middle of your back.
if you have a waist strap, use it.
This helps distribute some of the weight onto your pelvis, which relieves pressure on neck, shoulders and back.


If a young person’s backpack isn’t too heavy and it fits well, that’s great!

If a backpack is too heavy, encourage them to make changes that will help reduce the risk of pain and injury. This can include reducing the weight they are carrying by cleaning out their bags each week, taking something out and carrying it in their arms, and leaving extra items at home or at school.

If their backpacks don’t fit well, encourage them to stick with some changes they made today. Buying a new bag may not be feasible, but regularly checking to make sure the straps are where they should be can help.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English and Spanish so that families can continue to discuss and practice backpack safety at home.

Additional Instructor Resources

Drive Your Bike! Keys to Safe and Healthy Cycling

Lesson Introduction & Overview

Riding a bike is a great way to stay fit, get around your neighborhood or town, have fun with family and friends, and enjoy the great outdoors. While bike riding can be so good for our health, there is also a risk of crashing or falling. Many times we are sharing trails with other bikers or walkers, sharing roads with cars, or riding on rough terrain. It’s important when we’re riding to do everything we can to stay safe. This lesson focuses on four ways to do that.

Activity: Four Keys to Staying Safe on Your Bike

Introduce the idea that your bike is a vehicle. There are basic things that anyone has to learn before driving a vehicle. While we don’t need a license to ride a bike, there are still things we need to do to stay safe.

  • Know the Rules of the Road
    • Distribute the “Know the Rules of the Road” matching activity handout to each child. (Instructor Answer Key)
    • Signal your turns (we’ll practice in a minute!)
    • Be predictable! Two ways you can be predictable are by always riding on the rights side of the bike path or road and in a straight line.
    • Use signals to alert cars, other cyclists and walkers of what you are about to do. Explain to youth that you are going to play a game of ‘Simon Says’ using the hand signals that cyclists use. Teach them the signals first and then play the game. (Since they will be moving side-to-side as well as forward and back, it’s important to make sure you have a big enough space for this activity.) Here are the signals.
  • Be Aware: Being aware means paying attention to your surroundings as well as yourself and your equipment.
    • To stay aware of your surroundings, make sure you can see and hear well – no headphones! Every time you get to an intersection, stop and search. This means looking left, then right, then left again before proceeding.
    • It’s also important to be aware of the ‘ABCs’ of taking care of your bike. You’ll see a little bit more later in a video about how to check your bike, but you can remember that A means making sure there is enough air in the tires, B means having breaks that you know work, and C means that your chain is in good working condition and in the right place.
  • Be Visible: Just because you can see a vehicle doesn’t mean they can see you. When cycling wear bright clothing, have reflectors on your bike and ride during day light.
    • Distribute the “Be Visible” coloring activity sheet to each child. Directions: Color the cyclist on this coloring sheet as brightly as you can.
  • Save your Brain
      • Tell young people that protecting their brains is one of the most important parts of cycling/bike safety. Let them know that this video (4 minutes) will explain why it’s important and ways they can do it. Always Wear Your Helmet:

  • Reflection: Ask each young person to say one thing they learned about bike safety today.

Credit: BikeMN (


Cycling has lots of great benefits and is fun! By taking these simple but very important steps you can ensure that you “Drive Your Bike” in the safest way possible.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can continue to discuss and practice cycling/bike safety at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Bike safety: Understanding the rules of the road

Additional Instructor Resources

Online and On Guard: Is It Cyberbullying?

Lesson Overview

This lesson explores what it means to stay safe online. It focuses on cyberbullying and helping young people understand what it is, reflect on their experiences of it, and learn ways to prevent it or stop it.


Cyberbullying happens when kids bully each other through electronic technology such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, group chats, online games, or other platforms. Bullying, as described by, is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”

Cyberbullying can happen in very small ways, such as consistently posting mean comments or messages, or very significant ways, such as spreading widely unkind or false information about someone.

This lesson focuses on helping kids understand what cyberbullying is, why it’s not okay, and how to stop it.


  1. Talk about cyberbullying. Have a short conversation using the following questions:
    • Have you ever heard of cyberbullying? What do you know about cyberbullying? Think of a time when you saw/heard of cyberbullying – what are some examples of cyberbullying your thought of? (Suggest no names are used, rather “he” or “she”/”him” or “her”) Write their responses on a flipchart, whiteboard or chalkboard.
    • Are there things people do to one another online that could hurt feelings but that most people don’t considered bullying? What are some examples? Write these down as well. They might mention things like making mean comments on social media or posting pictures of others without permission.
  2. Explain that cyberbullying happens when people are intentionally and consistently mean to each other through electronic technology. If you’d like, you can read the definition from, “…unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.” It can happen in small ways, such as comments on posts, or very significant ways, such as threatening someone or spreading unkind or false information about them. Cyberbullying hurts the people who are bullied. It can also hurt people who bully by making them look bad and making them feel sad about their own choices.
  3. Do the Online and On Guard…Is It Cyberbullying? activity, which describes different scenarios and asks youth to sort them into four different categories of social interaction, including bullying. As they sort, facilitate a discussion about why they put the items where they did. There may be disagreements. Try to come to a shared decision about where to put each item, letting them know that every situation is unique and this activity is just to get them thinking. Validate all their ideas to encourage more discussion. Allow them to talk about their own similar experiences but stop them if they start to talk about specific examples that involve other people, letting them know that telling other people’s uncomfortable stories can actually be a form of bullying. Questions to help with the conversation can include:
    • Why did you choose this category?
    • What if we change something about this example? Would that put it in a different category? What kind of change would cause you to move it?
    • What other examples would you put in each of these categories?
  4. As a group, make a list of things that people can do to help stop cyberbullying. Here are some things you can add if they aren’t mentioned:
    • If someone is being mean to you or someone else online tell a teacher, parent or other trusted adult.
    • If someone is being mean to you or someone else online, tell them to stop. Sometimes quietly standing up for yourself or someone else is enough to convince a bullying to back off.
    • Only accept friend/follow requests from people you know in real life. Set privacy settings so information about you (including images) are not visible to the public. Every time you post or share, carefully consider whether you want it to live on forever, because it might.
    • Use good passwords and never share them with anyone. Generally, the longer the password, the stronger it is. Adding complexity, such as uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, makes it even stronger.
      • uppercase letter (e.g. A, B, C, D, E)
      • lowercase letter (e.g. a, b, c, d, e)
      • number (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
      • special character or symbol (e.g., ! @ # $ % & * _ + ~ . ,>)
      • Make your password memorable for you. Don’t use information people know about you, such as family members’ names, pet names, addresses or license plate numbers. And don’t repeat characters more than three times in a row.
    • Ask your parents or caregiver to help you if someone if cyberbullying to help you decide how you should respond. If your caregive is asking for your password – maybe be willing to share it so that they can help protect you. Remember, sometimes caregivers ask for passwords not because they don’t trust you, but because they are helping to protect your from cyberbullying!
  5. Create a “Bully-Free Zone” agreement or pledge. Ask them to commit to a short list of things they will do to help keep each other safe and healthy online and to sign the agreement. This can include simple things like, “Be kind,” “Ask before posting,” and “Treat others with respect.”
    One possibility is to use the THINK model:
    Always THINK Before You Post
    T=Is it true?
    H=Is it honest?
    I=Is it inspiring?
    N=Is it necessary
    K=Is it kind?
    If not, should you post it?
  6. What to do if you or a friend is being bullied:
    • Support them by listening to their story and reassuring that their feelings are fair. “I totally get it.” “That is not OK that they did XYZ.”
    • Offer to help them find an adult who can help them problem solve. “I think we should go talk to Mrs. XX – she always knows what to do” or, “My dad helped me one time when BLANK happened – I think he could help with this too.”
    • If your friend is nervous about getting help but you really feel like they need help, talk to a trusted adult who can help you problem solve your job as a friend. You can start by saying “I want to talk to you about something in confidence” so that they know it is an important and sensitive topic.


There is no one easy way to stop any kind of bullying from ever happening, but by introducing young people to these ideas now you help them start to build the tools to prevent or stop it from happening if and when they encounter it.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing how to recognize, prevent or stop cyberbullying.

Additional Instructor Resources

Online safety for kids: Your digital footprint and digital imprint

Lesson Overview

This lesson explores what it means to leave a digital footprint and discusses what a digital imprint is. It helps young people learn about their own online presence and activity, and make changes if they decide to. This lesson also includes an interactive worksheet and online activities.


Staying safe online means different things to different people. Knowing what your digital footprint is, is part of staying safe and healthy. A digital footprint is the trail of information you leave behind when you use the internet. Depending on your values, priorities, age, life stage, school, family expectations and other factors, you’ll want to set and keep boundaries that work for you.


  1. Talk about digital imprint.
    • A digital imprint is the impact that your online activities leave on you, including things you see, hear or read and also things other people say and do to you online.
    • A digital imprint isn’t necessarily good or bad. It exists and your thoughts and feelings about it and the effects it has on you depend on a lot of different factors such as your values, priorities, age, life stage, school and family expectations.
    • What do you see, hear and read online? Are there things you feel like are a waste of your time or disturbing to you? What do your parents think? Do they have rules about what’s OK and what’s not?
  2. Introduce the idea of a digital footprint.
    • A digital footprint is the trail of information you leave behind when you use the internet.
    • A digital footprint isn’t necessarily good or bad. It exists and your thoughts and feelings about it and the effects it has on you depend on a lot of different factors such as your values, priorities, age, life stage, school and family expectations.
    • Your digital footprint is made by things that are visible such as social media posts from you and other people. This includes photos, status updates, check-ins at locations, online groups and sites that you’ve liked or joined, and posts from other people that you’ve shared.
    • It also includes things that can be learned about you based on your activity such as websites you visit, personal information you enter, messages and emails you send, and so on.
    • When you really start to think it about, it’s A LOT of data!
  3. Do some exploration of digital footprints.
    • Ask for suggestions of famous people to search for online. As a group on a screen that everyone can see, search for those people to give them an idea of how easy it can be to find content about individuals.
    • Ask them to work in small groups and make lists of words that describe the type of content they find when they search for those famous people. Make different lists for each person. Share some of those words with the larger group.
    • Have a conversation with questions like: Are these words mostly positive? Negative? How do you think these people feel about their online presence? How would you feel if all of this information was out there about you?
  4. Hand out the My Digital Footprint worksheet. Allow them to work individually or in pairs to explore their own online presence. Have them look at all the social media sites they use (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and also do an internet search of their names. What do they find? What do they think about that? Are there things they would like to change? Has anyone tagged you in something that makes you uncomfortable or gotten access to your accounts and posted about you?
  5. Reconvene the group and talk about what they found. Were there any surprises? Do they have any ideas for things they’d like to change?


What can you do if you discover things you don’t like about your digital footprint?

  1. Tighten your restrictions on social media:
    • Only accept friend/follow requests from people you know in real life.
    • Set privacy setting so that information about you (including images) is not visible to the public.
    • Change settings, if necessary, so that others need your permission to tag you in posts.
  2. Delete things that you don’t want others to see. They may not completely go away if they have been shared by others or stored somewhere, but you can usually at least make them harder to find.
  3. Reset passwords. Make sure they are strong and do not share them!
  4. Carefully consider every time you post or share whether you want it to live on forever, because it might.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing the impact of a digital footprint and digital imprint and necessary actions to stay safe online.

Additional Instructor Resources

Breathe Easy: Asthma 101

Lesson Overview

Asthma is a disease that causes the small airways in your lungs to become inflamed or swollen. It may also lead to airway spasms. Both of these conditions narrow your airway and make it hard for you to breathe.

Commons asthma triggers include:

  • cigarette smoke (including secondhand smoke)
  • car exhaust and other air pollutants
  • smoke from recreational fires
  • cold air
  • chemical sprays
  • perfumes, scented deodorants and other strong odors
  • allergy triggers such as animal dander, dust, mold, pollen and mites
  • strong emotions
  • exercise, sports, work or play.

Warning signs of an asthma attack vary from person to person. In general, the following are signs of an attack:

  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • chest tightness
  • wheezing
  • faster breathing
  • itchy or sore throat
  • a drop in your peak flow rate.

You can manage asthma by:

  • using a peak flow meter (A peak flow meter is a small hand-held device to measure how fast you can move air through your lungs.)
  • following an asthma Management Plan
  • exercising
  • eating right
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • working closely with your health care provider.

Asthma Medicines for Children

There are different kinds of medicines to treat asthma. Different medicines work for different people. Two common kinds of medicine are:

Controllers. These are used daily to help prevent a person’s airways from getting inflamed. They are also called anti-inflammatories.

Rescuers (relievers). These are used when person is having symptoms to keep an asthma flare-up from getting worse. Rescuers sometimes can help relieve asthma symptoms. They are also called bronchodilators. It is important for people with asthma to always keep a supply of rescue medicine on hand, and keep this supply up-to-date.


  1. Introduce the topic of asthma and show the brief introductory video:
  2. Give each young person a straw. Tell them to put the straws in their mouths and try to breath. They should have their mouths closed around their straws. Have them try blocking the tip of the straw a bit. This is what it feels like to have an asthma attack.
  3. Ask if anyone knows anyone who has asthma or has asthma themselves. It’s very likely there will be a number of people. About 12 percent of teens in Minnesota and Wisconsin have been diagnosed with asthma. There are definitely more young people than that who have asthma-like symptoms but who have not been tested or treated.
  4. Distribute the “How to Care for Asthma” handout and locate the “Asthma Triggers” checklist and ask them to check off any of the triggers they are exposed to on a regular basis.
  5. Ask the group to tell you what kinds of things they think people with asthma can and can’t do. Then explain that as long as people who have asthma are able to control their symptoms, they can do anything anyone else can do: exercise, play, hang out with friends.

Ask them to flip over their checklists to the “How to Care for Asthma” side and to work in pairs to brainstorm things they can do to support a friend or family member who has asthma, or to manage their own asthma if they’ve been diagnosed. For a friend or family member this might be reminding them to take their medicines, being kind and understanding if they have to take a break for an activity, not wearing strong perfumes or other scents around them, or telling a teacher or other adult right away if they think someone is having an asthma attack. For themselves it might be remembering to do all these things. Encourage young people to be creative with this brainstorm.


Ask young people to say aloud their ideas and make a list on a white board or flip chart paper of the ways they can support people with asthma or manage their own asthma. The idea is to build awareness of and compassion for people who live with this chronic condition. Distribute the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish and ask them to be sure to share it with their parents.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Asthma 101: Helping kids breathe easy

Additional Instructor Resources

Asthma videos – Allina Health Video Library

American Lung Association

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics

The Concussion Conundrum

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the basic concepts of concussions. Youth will discuss brain injuries and complete a KWL chart (already Know, Want to know, what I Learned) to list facts about concussions. A hands-on learning activity gives young people a chance to experience what living with a brain injury may be like. Finally, the youth will reflect on what they learned about brain injuries and how to prevent them.

Instructor Notes

Before facilitating this lesson, you may want to review the following information about concussions. These facts can be shared with young people during your discussions.

Young people who play sports or are active other ways, such as riding bikes or playing on the playground, are at risk for concussion. This is a blow to the head that affects how the brain works. It is a form of brain injury. You can’t see it but it causes changes in a person’s behavior, thinking or physical actions.

Your brain is a soft organ that is protected by spinal fluid and your skull. Normally the spinal fluid acts as a cushion between brain and skull. When your head or body is hit hard enough, however, your brain can get knocked against your skull and be concussed. Signs of a concussion can occur right away or hours or even days after the injury occurs. It’s possible to have a concussion even if you never lose consciousness. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can include:

  •   headache
  •   problems with memory
  •   upset stomach (nausea) or vomiting
  •   balance issues or dizziness
  •   double or blurry vision
  •   being sensitive to light or sounds
  •   feeling hazy, foggy or groggy
  •   problems concentrating
  •   confusion
  •   not “feeling right”
  •   seizures.

Long-term problems are possible if a person has more than one concussion, or is re-injured before the brain fully heals. That’s why rest, seeking medical treatment, and following a doctor’s instructions are all important. Even better is to prevent concussions in the first place. The Centers for Disease Control recommends these prevention methods:

  1. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
  2. Wear a helmet that is fitted and maintained properly when:
    • riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter, or all-terrain vehicle
    • playing a contact sport, such as football, ice hockey, lacrosse or boxing
    • using in-line skates or riding a skateboard
    • batting and running bases in baseball or softball
    • riding a horse
    • skiing, sledding or snowboarding.
  3. Ensure that during athletic games and practices, you:
    • use the right protective equipment (should be fitted and maintained properly in order to provide the expected protection)
    • follow the safety rules and the rules of the sport
    • practice good sportsmanship
    • do not return to play with a known or suspected concussion until you have been evaluated and given permission by an appropriate health care professional.
  4. Make living areas safer by:
    • installing window guards to prevent people falling out of open windows
    • keeping stairs clear of clutter
    • securing rugs and using rubber mats in bathtubs
    • not playing on fire escapes or on other unsafe platforms.


Introduce the lesson by discussing concussions, how they occur, and why young people need to be aware of this type of brain injury. Use the information about concussions in the Instructor Notes above.

Ask if anyone in the class has ever had a concussion. If so, ask if they are willing to share a little bit about what that was like.

Activity: Concussion KWL

Hand out the KWL Student Activity Sheet. Invite the youth to fill out the worksheet with a list of things that they know and things they still have questions about on this topic. On a KWL chart, full sentences are not necessary; the ideas are more are important. Suggest they use bullet points or numbers to make their lists easier to read.

Activity: Experiencing Altered Senses

In advance of the lesson set up the stations as described below.

Explain that you have some stations set up with activities that are simulations of some of the possible effects of a brain injury such as concussion. Divide the young people into groups and have them move through the stations before holding a discussion at the end:

    1. Sensory loss: Sometimes people who have a brain injury don’t feel things the same way anymore, either temporarily or even permanently. Simulate this by putting common items in a bucket filled with rice. Have young people put a thick rubber glove on their dominant hand and reach into the rice to feel the items. Can they identify what they are?[1]
    2. Vision impairment: Smear the lenses of several pairs of goggles with petroleum jelly. Have the youth do a variety of regular classroom activities such as sharpen a pencil, copy a sentence off the board, write their names on a worksheet, walk to the bathroom and so on while wearing the goggles.[2]
    3. Loss of taste: Have several types of snacks available. Have each young person choose one of the types of snacks to taste. The first taste should be with their noses plugged. Have them write down a few words to describe the taste (such as sweet, salty, spicy). Then have them taste the same snack with their nose unplugged and again write down a description.
    4. Sensory hypersensitivity: Give the youth a math worksheet that’s at their level. Have them complete the worksheet while wearing headphones blaring loud music.

After the youth have completed the stations, reconvene the group a debrief using the follow questions as guides:

    1. What was it like to do those different things? Describe the experience as well as your feelings as you trying to accomplish them.
    2. Were some of them more difficult than others? Why?
    3. Were some of them more frustrating or upsetting than others? Why?
    4. What surprised you?
    5. Did you know that having a concussion could cause these kinds of problems?

[1] Adapted from Sharon Thorson, Injury Prevention Specialist, and the Denver Osteopathic Foundation, and from the “Brain Injury Empathy Experience” of Mapleton Center for Rehabilitation.
[2] ibid.


To conclude the lesson, ask the young people what they now know about how to prevent concussions. (Discuss and make sure they touch on all of the information mentioned above.)

Ask the youth to complete the last section of the KWL chart on the student activity sheet, listing things they learned about concussions.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, which also includes these tips, so that families can continue discussing brain health and brain injuries at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog(s)

Additional Instructor Resources

Information about Concussion in Sports from