Staff Finds: “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back!” and “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack”: Planet Health Workshops and Their Materials

By , May 16, 2017
The correct answer and decoy pieces for Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor.” According to these materials, the average sixth or seventh grader daily spends 8.9 hours sleeping, 6.5 hours sitting outside of class, 5 hours sitting in class, 2.3 hours standing, and 1.4 hours being active.

The correct answer and decoy pieces for Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor.” According to these materials, the average sixth or seventh grader daily spends 8.9 hours sleeping, 6.5 hours sitting outside of class, 5 hours sitting in class, 2.3 hours standing, and 1.4 hours being active.

In the mid-1990s, the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) conducted workshops at schools in the Boston metropolitan area as part of its implementation of a randomized control trial of Planet Health, a middle-school-based interdisciplinary wellness curriculum. One series of workshops provided training to introduce teachers to Planet Health, but another series was specifically aimed at promoting wellness for teachers and staff, and included a workshop entitled “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back!” Center staff found records of these workshops, as well as game pieces used in workshop activities, while processing the records of the HPRC.

The wellness workshops for teachers and staff were offered as part of the Planet Health curriculum in 1997. “Fitness After 25” discussed the physiological and psychological changes that take place in the body after a person turns 25. A four-week-long course on stress management investigated ways stress can be used advantageously and also taught stress-reduction techniques and exercises. “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back” offered instruction on how to build and maintain stronger bones for the participants as well as their families and students. Participants received professional development points for attending each workshop. In addition to these workshops, the program organized a walking group that met once a week for seven weeks at each of the participating schools.

The workshops that teachers attended to learn about that year’s Planet Health curriculum and its thematic units included many different activities, which may also have been used in the classroom with students. Staff found pieces for a game called “Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor,” cards for a concentration game called “Concentrate on Fat Facts,“ cards for a game called “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack,” as well as a variety of food models used for games about nutrition.

In “Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor,” teams received a set of puzzle pieces that listed different amounts of time the average sixth or seventh grader spent sleeping, sitting in class, sitting outside of class, standing, and being active daily. Teams were instructed to choose the pieces that added up to a pie chart with the correct amounts of time. In “Concentrate on Fat Facts,” teams played concentration with a twist: matching a question card with the correct answer card.  In “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack,” teams answered questions about fruits, vegetables, and general nutrition for points, trying to get as close to 21 points as possible.

Apple pie and applesauce food models. According to the models, apple pie has 327mg of sodium; applesauce has 4mg.

Apple pie and applesauce food models. According to the models, apple pie has 327mg of sodium; applesauce has 4mg.

The food models were used for several different games about nutrition. In one game, players chose the food with the higher sodium content from a series of pairs: ground beef and a hot dog; apple pie and applesauce; a tortilla and tortilla chips. In another game using the hot dog, peanut butter, ground beef, fish sticks, roast beef, halibut, and navy beans food models, players arranged the models in order of highest to lowest fat content. In a third game, players matched a variety of food models (with their nutrition information covered) to their corresponding nutritional value cards (with the food names covered).

The Planet Health curriculum was first developed in 1995 and continues today to give middle school students the knowledge and tools to make good decisions about their nutrition and physical fitness. The HPRC, now called The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard School of Public Health, was founded in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts to work with local, community, and governmental organizations to research, develop, implement, and refine school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits among youth. Its programs particularly focus on improving nutrition and exercise habits in order to lower the risk of obesity and chronic disease in children and youth.

The HPRC collection is expected to be open to research in the spring of 2017. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services staff. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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