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.

Activity

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
Food
Charm or good luck item
Homework from last semester (or year or month)
Art project
Phone or other electronic
Pencil or pens
Clothing
Shoes
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.

Conclusion

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 (bikemn.org/education/walk-bike-fun)

Conclusion

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

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.

Activity

  1. Introduce the topic of asthma and show the brief introductory video: https://allinahealth.videosforhealth.com/Home/v/VideoDetail/c/229/programcode/hc_pd_10001
  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.

Conclusion

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.

Introduction

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.

Conclusion

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 CDC.gov

Brain Boost

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand what they need to do to protect and help grow their brains. They will learn about activities and habits that help their brains develop and function at their best.

Introduction

The brain is a very important organ. Without it, nothing else in a body can function. Scientists are learning more all the time about how brains grow and develop, and how we can best care for them.

Guide young people through the Brain Basics online learning activity. The main points are also listed below.

  1. Nutrition: Brains need lots of fuel. What you eat can have short-term impacts on things like concentration and focus, as well as longer-term effects on how your brain grows and develop. A balanced diet that includes lots of whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and proteins, is your best bet. It’s also important for kids to to eat throughout the day…especially breakfast.
  2. Sleep: Specific sleep needs vary, but children and teenagers need more than adults do. Some general guidelines are:
    • ages 3 to 10: 10 to 12 hours each day
    • ages 11 to 12: about 10 hours each day
    • teenagers (ages 13 to 17): about nine hours each day.
  3. Stimulating thinking activities: People of all ages need to use their brains in lots of different ways to keep them sharp and effective. This means mixing it up with different activities that involve logic and problem solving, concentration and memory, reading, making plans, being silly and creative, and working hard on something.
  4. Physical activities: Exercise and movement are critical. Playing sports, free play, running, hiking, jumping, skipping…all of this and more promote health brain development.
  5. Mindfulness/relaxation/rest: Even little kids can get worried and stressed out. Too much of that isn’t good for how we feel in the moment or how our brains change over time. Everyone needs to find ways to quiet and calm their minds. Learn more through other Health Powered Kids lessons or the Change to Chill web site: changetochill.org.
  6. Protection: Our skulls, which surround our brains, are fairly hard and tough and do a good job of keeping our brains safe. But our brains are actually pretty soft and they can be sensitive and sometimes when we’re doing more rough activities, like biking, skiing, or skateboarding, it’s good to have even more protection than usual. And if our brains get injured, we need to rest and following a doctor’s instructions for healing.

Activity: Brain Drawing Worksheet

  1. Hand out the Brain Basics Drawing Worksheet (see What You Need).
  2. Explain that our brains are very important because they keep the rest of our bodies working, including things we don’t ever have to think about like our lungs breathing and our hearts beating. While we’re sleeping we don’t realize it but even then our brains are working hard to keep everything running smoothly.
  3. Explain that since our brains take such good care of us, it’s important for us to take care of them. Point out the sections on the worksheet and say that they each represent things we can do to take care of our brains. As a class, brainstorm some ideas for the sections. In the Protect Your Brain section, for example, young people could draw a picture of themselves wearing a helmet while riding a bike. For the “What Else?” category, choose another method that was discussed in the Brain Basics online learning activity, such as sleeping, meditating, or doing stimulating thinking activities. Have the youth draw pictures of things that help boost their brains.

Activity: Concentration Game

After giving students a bit of time to work on their activity sheets, play a game of concentration. There are lots of variations of this game, but here’s one: Players sit in a circle cross-legged and take a number each, starting with number one.

Students start chanting the following while slapping their thighs twice then clapping their hands twice:

Concentration (slap slap clap clap)

Are you ready? (slap slap clap clap)

If – so – (slap slap clap clap)

Let’s – go! (slap slap clap clap)

Then player one, continuing the rhythm, says their own number twice followed by another number in the circle.

For example: 1, 1, 4, 4 (slap slap clap clap)

Player 4 then does the same, starting with their own number and following with someone else’s:

4, 4, 7, 7 (slap slap clap clap)

Anybody who makes a mistake or doesn’t keep the rhythm is out but remains in the circle, making it more difficult for the other players, who must remember not to use the numbers of the people who are out.

Conclusion

After playing the game for a while, explain that games like concentration help your brain by forcing it to do more than one thing at a time (make your hands move, remember the pattern, think of a number, say and number, and so on). Ask if anyone has examples or ideas of other things that could help strengthen your brain. If anyone has an idea of a game give it a try if you have time.

If the youth did not have time to finish the activity sheets, encourage to finish working on them at home.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can continue discussing brain health at home.

 

Eye Protection

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand how their eyes work, how to keep them healthy, and ways to protect them during different activities. The topic is introduced with whole-group formative assessment questions to generate interest and discussion. Then, youth complete an activity where they learn the parts of the eye. Finally, they learn tips for taking care of their eyes.

Introduction

Start with an interactive voting activity. Use the lesson for the interactive whiteboard (see What You Need) or write the questions on the board.  Let the young people vote.

1. An eyeball is about the size of:

  1. A marble
  2. A grape
  3. A tennis ball
  4. A ping pong ball (correct answer)

2. Our eyebrows are useless and just for appearance:

  1. True
  2. False (correct answer; eye brows kept moisture, like sweat, out of our eyes)

3. You can get a sunburn on your eyes.

  1. True (correct answer; You can protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses with UV protection.)
  2. False

4. Which of the following can be a sign that someone has an eye problem?

  1. Blinking or rubbing their eyes a lot
  2. Eyes looking crossed or one seems to be going the wrong way sometimes
  3. Squinting when looking at objects
  4. All of the above (correct answer)

Ask if any of the answers were suprising. Which ones? Let young people talk about any problems they’ve have with their own eyes if they volunteer that information, but keep the conversation relatively brief and focus on what they can do to keep their eyes healthy, no matter what problems they’ve had in the past.

Activity: Parts of the Eye

After the opening quiz, have the youth work in small groups to do the Eye Didn’t Know That activity on the worksheet or at the interactive whiteboard. Once the small groups have identified the parts of the eyes, discuss the answers as a large group.

Conclusion: Taking Care of your Eyes

You only have one set of eyes and they have to last you your entire life. There are several ways you can take care of your eyes that will help them work better for you now and in the future. Discuss these tips with the youth.

  1. Give your eyes a break from the screen—Our eyes need rest just like the rest of us does…when working on a computer or using other electronics take breaks every 15 minutes or so.
  2. Make sure you have good light when reading, writing, doing puzzles, or otherwise focusing closely for an extended period.
  3. Protect eyes from bright light and sun exposure. Say something like, Research is linking UV rays from the sun to eye problems. Problems range from temporary blindness to developing something called cataracts, which cause cloudy vision and can only be repaired with surgery. Buying the right kind of sunglasses can help prevent problems from UV rays. For the best protection look for at least 98 percent protection from both UVA and UVB rays. Then ask for examples of other ways to protect eyes during different activities. If not mentioned, talk about the following:
    • Outdoor cold weather sports with lots of sun exposure such as skiing or snow boarding—Sport goggles with UV protection.
    • Outdoor warm weather sports with lots of sun exposure such as sailing or other water sports
  4. Protect eyes from possible injury.
    • Swimming—Swim goggles, especially in chlorinated water
    • Contact sports such as basketball or soccer—Sport goggles if a prescription is needed
    • Shooting sports, using power tools, doing science experiments—Protective glasses or goggles
  5. Eat foods with lots of beta carotene—Ask if anyone knows of foods that contain this nutrient. Beta carotene is food in large quantities in orange foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. It helps keep your eyes strong and working well.

Continuing the Conversation 

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

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Seeing clear around eye protection

Additional Instructor Resources

Phillips Eye Institute
Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month
Children’s Eye Safety – Gear Up! Poster

Staying Safe During Physical Activity

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the equipment they need to stay safe during different sports and activities. They will color images of athletes and then label the different gear that keeps them safe.

Introduction

Explain to the youth that using the wrong or improperly fitted equipment is a major cause for injuries in playing games and sports. For example playing tennis with a badly strung racquet while wearing worn-out shoes can be just as dangerous as playing football without shoulder pads!

Ask young people if they can think of any equipment they have used or have seen others wear while playing sports or doing other physical activities.

Remind young people that before wearing protective equipment or playing, they should always check equipment for proper fit and replace worn out equipment. For example, replace a child’s bike helmet if it:

  • has been in a bike accident
  • is damaged from being used (such as cracked or dented).

Activity: Staying Safe Coloring Sheet

Distribute the Staying Safe Coloring Sheet. As you walk through the different kinds of equipment below, have the youth color the athletes and label the different gear that keeps them safe.

Here are the “Most Valuable Pieces” of equipment that you need to know about.

Helmets:

  • Always wear a helmet made for the sport you are playing.
  • Bike helmets should have a CPSC sticker. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) set up the federal safety standard that all bike helmets must meet. Helmets that meet this standard will have this sticker attached.
  • Helmets should fit snugly but comfortably on your head and shouldn’t tilt backward or forward.

Eye Protection:

  • Eye gear for sports is made from a plastic called polycarbonate.
  • Facemasks, either a guard or shield, attached to helmets should also be made of polycarbonate.
  • Goggles should be worn to cover prescription eye glasses. You can also purchase prescription polycarbonate goggles.

Mouth Guards:

  • Mouth guards can protect your mouth, teeth and tongue.
  • Mouth guards should be worn in contact sports.
  • If you wear a retainer always take it out before you start to exercise, practice or play.

Wrist, Knee, and Elbow Guards or Pads:

  • You should wear guards or pads when doing any activity that requires moving on wheels, such as skateboarding.
  • Guards or pads can prevent breaks, cuts, and absorb shock from falls.
  • Guards or pads should fit snugly and comfortably.

Protective Cup

  • Boys who play contact sports should wear a protective cup.
  • Boys should wear an athletic supporter when playing non-contact sports that involve running.
  • If you are unsure, ask your coach if you need a protective cup for your sport.

Footwear:

  • Football, baseball, softball and soccer are some sports that require cleats.
  • Skateboarding and biking have special types of shoes that are best for performing well.
  • Replace cleat and shoes that have worn out or are no longer supportive.

Activity: Safety Tips

Here are a few other tips to keep from getting hurt while playing sports.

Warm Up for Injury-Free Play: Muscles that have not been warmed up the right way tend to be injured more easily.

  • Start out with some light cardiovascular activities, such as easy jogging, jumping jacks, or brisk walking, to get your muscles moving and blood circulating.
  • Follow your warm-up with some stretches. Stretching works best after a warm-up because your ligaments and tendons are more elastic (flexible) due to the increase in heat and blood flow to the muscle.
  • Do not over do your play, game or sport. If you increase how often, how long or how hard you play too fast, you might see better performance at first, but this can lead to injuries later.

Stay Off the Court When You Are Hurt: If you have been injured and you try to come back too soon, you run the risk of re-injuring yourself – maybe even more seriously than before.

  • Concussion: A concussion is a blow to the head that affects how the brain works. A concussion can also happen after a hit to the body that causes the head to move quickly back and forth. Because you cannot see this type of injury, it is easy to come back too soon from a concussion. Always listen to your doctor and get the OK from him or her to play again.
  • Pain relief: Some athletes use pain relievers to avoid pain. Pain is your body’s way of signaling it is not happy with what you are doing. If you have pain, get treatment so you can fix what’s causing it.

The Rules of the Game: Rules are made to keep you and your teammates in the game and to avoid injuries. Follow all the rules to have a safe season.

  • Rules are made to promote safety so that everyone can enjoy the game.
  • You need to follow other rules even if they don’t relate to the sport. For example, if you are inline skating on a public street, pay strict attention to all traffic laws.
  • You need to use the right techniques when playing a sport. This will help you or your opponent not get injured. For example, when playing football, always keep your head up when tackling, neck injuries are common when players tackle with head down. In hockey, high sticking is a violation because it can be dangerous to other players. The right technique would be to keep the stick below waist level. It is also important to use the right technique when lifting weights. This will keep you from holding your breath and possibly fainting.

Whether you are following rules, regulations, or proper techniques, remember that they are not there to restrict you, they are there to keep you safe and injury free.

Conclusion

Ask the young people to think of one way they will keep themselves safe during sports or other activities this week. If time permits, allow the youth to share their reflections. Conclude the lesson by reminding young people that rules and protective equipment are not there to restrict you, they are there to keep you safe and injury free! Depend on Health Powered Kids for safe and simple exercises for children.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing ways they will stay safe during sports and other activities.

Additional Instructor Resources

Concussions in Sports: What You Should Know

 

Get Out and Enjoy Nature

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand the benefits of outside play for their bodies and minds. The youth will participate in three hands-on activities that show some of the many ways they can enjoy being outdoors.

Instructor Notes

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

Outdoor play can help the body by:

  • increasing fitness levels and building active, healthy bodies
  • raising levels of Vitamin D which helps protect bone strength and may help in the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes
  • may help improve distance vision
  • may help you breathe easier.

Outdoor play can help the mind by:

  • improving focus throughout the day
  • helping kids score higher on tests
  • improving critical thinking on projects.

Outdoor play can help the spirit by:

  • lowering stress levels
  • protecting emotional development and lowering the risk of anxiety and depression
  • enhancing social interactions and helping kids value community
  • enhancing sleep duration and quality.

Activity: Outdoor Energy Boost

This activity demonstrates how our mood can improve simply by going outdoors for a short period of time.

  1. Before going outside, have each young person report on how they are feeling. Write their answers on the whiteboard or smart board.
  2. When they come back inside, ask them again how they are feeling. Write their answers down again. Ask the youth what differences they see. Do they feel happy or sad, tired or lively, restless or calm? Did they feel like they have more energy since going outside?
  3. After all the results are in, show the young people some of the differences. For instance if 5 people were tired before going outside, and 1 was tired after going outside, then you can form a hypothesis that going outside makes most people less tired. If your group of young people would rather play on the computer or watch TV, let them know that these ‘screen’ activities could make them feel more tired and less energetic. So, the more you are able to get outside creating, playing, and working the more energy you will have.
  4. Tell them some of the positive benefits of outdoor play, such as builds healthy bones, improves mood, fresh air can help us breathe easier, and help us sleep better at night.

Activity: Creature – An Outdoor Art Project

This activity allows youth to use their imagination and creativity to look at nature in a whole new way.

  1. Give each young person a paper bag to bring outside to collect treasures. Tell them they will be making a creature/bug/monster when they have all their supplies.
  2. Have them think about the creature they want to make, then offer clues like collecting a rock for the body, twigs for legs, leaves for wings, and tree seeds for scales. Let them be creative.
  3. Once all the supplies are collected, have the youth glue their creature together and allow time to dry. Have each young person show and tell about their creatures.

Activity: Dig in the Dirt

Most children do not even know what soil ‘feels’ like, they walk on sidewalks. Some days kids do not even get to walk on grass, most have never gardened. This activity has proven to slow kids down and ground them, meaning to get them back to the basics of earth, away from technology. Spending time feeling, touching and describing soil and other nature made materials has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety.

  1. Have a bucket of soil for the young people to feel the texture.
  2. Have the young person describe the feeling.
  3. Write their descriptions on the board.

Conclusion

Remind young people that playing outside has many benefits for their bodies and minds. Ask the youth to brainstorm other fun activities they can do outside. Encourage them to get outside and enjoy the outdoors everyday!

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can discuss ways to get outside and have fun together.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Exercise to help the body, mind and spirit

Additional Instructor Resources

Book: Growing Vegetable Soup, by Lois Ehlert
Outdoor Activity Finder by the National Wildlife Federation

 

Your Happy Heart

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand why it’s important to exercise for a healthy heart. Through a series of active movements, the youth will learn how the heart functions and why a strong heart is more effective at circulating oxygen throughout your body.

Instructor Notes

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

Aerobic means “with oxygen”.

Endurance means how well you are able breathe, take air into your lungs, and use the air throughout your whole body.

Heart rate is the number of times your heart beats each minute. This amount will increase when you are active.

Air has oxygen in it. When you breathe and expand your lungs, the oxygen goes into your lungs. After that, it makes its way into your bloodstream where your heart then pumps it to every part of your body.

When you become physically active, your muscles call for more oxygen, so you start to breathe faster and your heart rate increases to meet the demand of oxygen that your muscles need. The more oxygen your body gets the more energy you will have. The more you are able to get physically active, the stronger your heart will be.

Introduction

Provide young people information on the positive health benefits of physical activity.
Exercise:

  1. Helps your body maintain overall good health.
  2. Helps build and maintain healthy and strong bones and muscles.
  3. Increases flexibility and aerobic endurance.

Ask young people for more ideas on the benefits of being physically active. Other tips the instructor may want to add:

  • have a leaner body because exercise helps build muscle
  • decrease chance of becoming unhealthy
  • have a better outlook on life.

Activity: About Your Heart

Now let’s take a closer look at the human heart and how it ties to overall health and physical fitness. When we become physically active, our muscles call for more oxygen, so we start to breathe faster and our heart rate increases to meet the demand of oxygen that our muscles need. The more oxygen your body gets the more energy you will have.

Do a quick activity that demonstrates how to increase the amount of oxygen in the body. Instruct young people to do the following:

  1. Sit up tall with both legs relaxed. Rest your hands in your lap. Do not cross your ankles or legs.
  2. Take slow deep breaths as you expand your lungs, slowly exhale, or breathe out.

Inform young people that breathing like this helps your body build up its supply of oxygen. When you are getting physical activity, the pace of your breathing will increase because your muscles need more oxygen to work harder. After you play tag, for example, it may take a little while to “catch your breath,” or for your breathing to come back to normal. At this time you may have a hard time taking in slow, deep breaths.

Then explore the heart’s role in helping you get enough oxygen throughout your body. Instruct them further:

  1. Make a fist and squeeze your bicep muscle, then relax. (For very young children, show the move as they may not know what a bicep is.)
  2. Now flex your quadriceps (the thigh muscles), then relax.
  3. Finally, flex your “heart.” Pause while the youth wiggle and shift their bodies in an attempt to flex their hearts.

Inform young people that the heart while the heart is a muscle, it’s not one we can flex when we tell ourselves to do so. We need physical activity to get the heart muscle to flex and get a good workout. Ask the youth what they could do to get their hearts flexing and pumping faster. If prompts are needed state a few examples – ride our bikes, play a game of tag, etc.

Activity: Exercise for a Healthy Heart

Lead the youth in one or more of these activities that teach young people ways to strengthen their hearts.

  1. Heart Walk Activity: Pass out a blank piece of paper and pencil to each young person. Have each of them trace their foot prints/shoe prints on the paper – left foot on the front side of the paper and right foot on the back. Brainstorm short and rather simple physical activities the youth can do to get their hearts pumping (e.g., 5 sit ups, 10 jumping jacks, run in place for 10 seconds, 3 push-ups, etc.). Have them each write  a separate activity on each side of their papers in the center of the foot print. They each get to choose what to write and you want to encourage a variety of activities. Move to an open physical fitness space. Have the young people lay their papers down in a pattern on the floor. Space them so there is room  to do each activity before moving on to the next paper and doing the activity written on it. Each young person should visit each paper one time. Once they’ve made it around to each of the footprint stations, have the youth flip the paper over (exposing a new exercise) and lay them back down on the ground and start the rotation over.
  2. Distribute the Happy Heart Coloring Sheet. Tell the young people to color the boy on the bicycle, and that bicycling is a heart healthy activity. Give the youth time to color the sheet.
  3. Strong Heart vs. Weak Heart Activity:
    • For one minute, have each young person squeeze their dominant hand (the hand they write with) into a fist, then relax and stretch out their fingers, as many times as they can. Most of the youth will not even be able to make the full minute.
    • Then have each young person do the same thing with their non-dominant hand, but this time have the youth slow down the fist/stretch. A good way to have them slow down would be to say a three syllable word like elephant (squeeze on ‘el’, release on ‘e’ and stretch on ‘phant’). Each fist/stretch should take about one second.
    • When the minute is up, ask “which hand became tired faster?” Relate the hand activity to the how the heart pumps blood through the body. A weak heart has to pump/beat more times each minute, moving less blood with each beat. While a strong heart can beat fewer times each minute, while pumping out more blood with each beat.

Conclusion

To conclude the lesson, remind young people that the more you are able to get physically active, the stronger your heart will be.

Continuing the Conversation

Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can continue discussing heart health and the importance of physical activity at home.

Related Health Powered Kids Blog

Stay active to keep your heart healthy

Additional Instructor Resources

The Heart on KidsHealth.org

Stretch for Your Best!

Lesson Overview

This lesson helps young people understand that stretching their muscles is a part of a healthy lifestyle at all ages. The youth will learn and practice several several stretches together.

Introduction

Provide young people information on the positive benefits and importance of stretching:

  • Stretching is important at any age.
  • Stretching:
    • helps move joints through a full range of motion, by keeping ligaments (attach muscle to muscle) and tendons (attach muscle to bone) flexible
    • prevents injury
    • improves athletic performance
    • encourages a healthful lifestyle
    • helps ease sore or tight muscles
    • promotes better posture
    • avoids stiffness and speeds recovery of muscles after running or playing sports
    • encourages blood to circulate to the muscles and joints throughout the body
    • reduces stress.

Provide young people with the proper way to prepare to stretch:

  • The President’s Council for Physical Fitness and Sports states, “warmed-up tissues are less likely to be injured.”
  • Stretching before warming up increases risk for pulled muscles and doesn’t promote increased flexibility, so it’s best to wait until the end of physical activity, or at least warm up, by walking or jogging and gradually increasing heart rate, for five to 10 minutes before stretching. Warming up helps to deliver more blood to the muscle and helps the muscle become warm and able to stretch easier.
  • Warm-up phase should not cause you to feel tired. Tell the youth to stretch to a point of a gentle pull, not pain, and advise them to stretch after exercising.

Activity: Stretching

On yoga or other type of mats or a dry, soft, flat area in the grass, lead young people in the following stretches. Note the parts of the body that deserve pay special attention in each pose.

Toe Touch

A toe touch stretch is one of the most basic stretches a child can perform. This stretch targets largely the muscles of the legs, especially the calves and hamstrings. From a standing position, the child bends over at the waist and reaches for his or her toes with feet together. If the child can’t quite reach his or her toes, he or she can stretch just as far as is comfortable. From a sitting position, the child sits with legs outstretched and together. The child then bends forward; reaching for the toes or as far as is comfortable. In both stretches, the child should hold the stretch for 15 seconds and then release.

Neck Half Circles

The child starts by stretching right ear to right shoulder. He or she then rolls his or her head around, chin to chest, in a half circle to the left shoulder, and then back again, chin to chest. Slow movements are important to protect the neck muscles from injury.

Shoulder Circles

The child shrugs his or her shoulders and rotates them forward and down in a circle. Switch directions after five or six turns by shrugging the shoulders and then moving backwards in a circle.

Arm Circles

Arm circles can be used to stretch the muscles supporting the elbow and shoulder joint where the arm attaches to the shoulder. The child holds his or her arms out to the side, creating a horizontal line with his or her arms. The child then draws circles with his or her hands, starting with small circles and slowly growing to large circles, then back to smaller circles. Start first by drawing circles clockwise, and then reverse to counter-clockwise. Keep the movements slow, and prevent the child from just flailing his arms around.

Side Bends

Have each child stand up straight with arms to the outside of each thigh. Slowly move the fingers down toward the outside of one knee, while bending at the waist. Alternate sides, do 10 side bends on each side.

Reach for the Stars

Just like the title of this one, have the student reach up as high as they can while standing on their tiptoes. This stretch can even be done while lying down on a mat; the goal is to reach their hands and feet away from each other.

Child’s Pose

The child’s pose is a stretch taken from yoga, but can also be used outside of yoga as part of your child’s stretching routine for more of a full body stretch. To perform the child’s pose, the child gets on his or her knees with feet together. The child then sits on his or her heels and bends her body forward until the forehead touches the ground. Bring the arms around to each side of the body, resting with his or her palms facing towards the sky. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, and then return back to an upright kneeling position.

Conclusion

Ask young people to recall the reasons for stretching offered in the Lesson Introduction above. Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue stretching together at home. Find more health lessons for kids from Health Powered Kids to help children and families live their happiest and healthiest lives.

Additional Instructor Resources