Our Holiday Wish For You

A Holiday Wish from Healthy Learning Paths

We wish each of you a healthy and happy holiday season.  Our wish for you is to experience a season of sharing and friendship.  For many, the holidays bring a season of loneliness.  No gifts of toys or cyber specials soothe the loneliness.  However, the gift of friendship and kindness fills this void.  Our wish for you is to be the friend who shares kindness this holiday season.  We leave you with a poem of friendship written by a very wise middle school student.  Please share this poem  in hopes that all of us practice the gift of friendship.

Is loyal
Is honest
Is trusting
Is courageous
Understands you
Can joke with you
Stands up for you
Makes you feel good
Cares about what you do
Doesn’t let you do drugs
Likes you for who you are
Always does the right thing
Knows how to cheer you up
Shares many qualities with you
Never actually gets mad at you
Will help you through anything
Feels empathy
Is like a family member

Kids’ Lives Matter

by Chris Marchioni, MD, Healthy Learning Paths, Advocate for Children

As a physician, my challenge is to keep kids healthy.  But to help children stay healthy, we must first keep them alive.  In the US, too many children experience an abrupt and brutal end to life.  The deaths of children are an unacceptable price to pay for what some leaders describe as freedom.  Loss of innocent lives is a misguided and dangerous excuse for false freedom.

In a country that boasts freedom, what freedoms do children have?  In the US, children are free to be maimed and murdered in schools.  Children are free to be hunted like animals and murdered in movie theaters and churches.  The cowardly excuses our leaders claim for these senseless murders are “mental health problems.”  Mental illness has been in the US for centuries.  However, these cold-blooded, mass murders are recent and common events that directly relate to easy access of guns.  It is troubling to witness leaders who run from their responsibility to keep citizens safe and who also show an indifference to the violence plagued by America.

We must ask some hard questions.  What kind of leaders ignore the lives of their youngest citizens?  In a country that states security of its people is the highest priority, how can politicians turn their backs on protecting the lives of children?  Are murders of innocent children and adults the result of the depraved indifference to human life by politicians?

What is depraved indifference to human life?  Depraved means corrupt or cruel.  Indifference means insignificant or unimportant.  As defined by US law, “depraved-indifference murder is an action where someone acts with a ‘depraved indifference’ to human life and the act results in a death.  In a depraved-indifference murder, individuals commit an act with the knowledge that their act runs a high risk of causing death or serious bodily harm to a person or persons.  If the risk of death or bodily harm is great enough, ignoring it demonstrates a depraved indifference to human life.”  The resulting death can be charged as first degree murder, second degree murder, or varying degrees of manslaughter depending on individual state law definitions.  In some states, prosecutors find it easier to prove extreme indifference, because they are not required to demonstrate an intent to kill a person, but must show conduct that creates a risk of death to a person or persons.  This law was created to deter excessively dangerous behavior and provide additional punishment for cruel crimes.

Consider the legal argument that allowing the easy access of guns in the US results in the death of innocent children.  Factual statistics such as the massacres in Texas and Sandy Hook support this argument.  Members of Congress and local politicians are well informed about violent murders and suicides linked to guns throughout the US.  The policy to allow easy access to guns represents a “depraved indifference” to human life due to the well-established high risk of causing death or serious bodily harm to many children and adults in the US.

A culture that allows mass murder of its own people represents depraved indifference to human life.  For US leaders to blame “mental health problems” for the mass shootings of innocent children is shameful, destructive, and an insult to many who suffer from mental illness.  Politicians cry mental illness and prayer as they shirk their responsibility to the children who they are supposed to protect.  These same leaders would have us believe that this killing is a normal part of freedom.  It is not.  Our leaders have admired the problem of gun violence too long and have become too comfortable with mass murders of children.  Do the lives of children no longer matter in America?

All kids’ lives matter.  It is time to speak out and stand up for innocent children.  It is time to hold politicians at every level accountable for the protection of its citizens especially our children.  If we cannot protect children in our own country, we will never promote peace anywhere in the world.  It is time to use our voices, our actions, and our intelligence to find new leaders with integrity and a hunger for protecting rather than killing its own citizens.  It is time to find leaders who value the rights of children and will work to keep all children of American safe and healthy.

Politicians have turned our culture into horror for our most innocent children.  This problem calls for a grass roots effort.  Every individual can find purpose in this effort.  Our shared purpose is to work to keep children safe, so they can live.  It is time to find leaders who are more passionate about the health and safety of our children than they are about the amount of dollars in their bank accounts.  It’s time to find leaders who have the courage and commitment to protect and serve our children.  This protection starts with restricting deadly guns.

Let’s start at local levels with a single cause the health and safety of children.  Let’s identify leaders who will take up this cause and do our best to support these leaders in business, education, health care, and most of all politics.  Let’s remove the deadly violence of guns from our culture and give children a chance at life and at a future.

Let’s work together as if the lives of children depend on us because the lives of children are exactly what is at stake.

The Health Care Children Need

by Chris Marchioni, MD, Healthy Learning Paths, Advocate for Children

He could not bear the thought of his daughter walking down the aisle alone.  It was a beautiful summer day in June, perfect for baseball practice.  No one was prepared for the barrage of bullets pounding across the field.  Lying helpless, would he bleed out on the field?

One man was trying to crawl without cover.  He was shot in the hip and suffered a life threatening wound.   When the bullets stopped, friends ran to help stop the bleeding.  CBS 60 minutes captured the events of this shocking attack and inspirational recovery of House Majority Whip Congressman Stephen Scalise.

After being flown by helicopter to a hospital, he required multiple blood transfusions, several surgeries, and extended hospital stays.  Then it was on to rehab where he took on the challenge of literally learning to walk again.

He had the best surgical teams, doctors, nurses, and physical therapists to guide his treatments and  recovery.  He also had the grit and perseverance to work hard and not give up during this long process.  When he finally returned to Washington, it was heart-warming to see the standing ovation Congress offered as he walked into the “house of the people.”   As I followed the heroic battle of Mr. Scalise, I was moved by his courage.

The expert medical care he received was equally inspirational.  From the emergency responders to the hospital trauma teams, everyone was ready to do their best without hesitation.  The health care system saved Mr. Scalise.  He did not bleed out on the field that sunny day in June.

Something burned in my mind, “If my child was shot that day, would he have received this same care?”  What if my son didn’t have health insurance, would treatment happen without hesitation?  Would my son bleed out on the field?

Is it possible for every American to be guaranteed quality medical care?  How do we decide who gets medical care and what quality of care they receive?  Is it just to deny a child, any child, medical care regardless of ability to pay?  What kind of government allows their citizens to suffer without medical care?  Are American citizens less important than government officials?  Are American children less worthy of medical coverage than members of Congress?  Who is the American health care system here to serve?

As a medical doctor, it was my belief and my duty to serve all who entered my doors.  However, that is not the system we have created in America.  In fact, we have closed our doors to many Americans even children who desperately need health care.  Why?  Where is the justice in denying children and adults medical care?  Shouldn’t every child have the same health benefits that our members of Congress enjoy?  As the richest country in the world, why can’t we afford to meet the health needs of all of our children?

When members of Congress try to “fix” the health insurance challenges, why not offer everyone the same health insurance benefits they have?  It is time for children of America to have the same health insurance as members of Congress because it is justice.

Please share this article with others.  Let’s work together for children.

What Challenge Do All Kids Share

by Chris Marchioni, MD, Healthy Learning Paths

What challenge does every child face with a new school year? Some parents say it is adjusting to a new sleep schedule, while others insist it’s keeping up with homework demands.  Kids of all ages share one universal challenge that weighs heavy in their hearts.  Can you guess what it is?

When Aiden arrives home from school, his mother asks, “Did you make any new friends today?”  Bingo! Whether they are five or fifteen, the common challenge kids face is, “Will I have a friend in my class?”  A friend helps students look forward to school.  When children make friends, they are more engaged in school, which leads to improved academic and social experiences.

As educational priorities shift to STEM, (science, technology, engineering, and math), children have less time to develop basic skills of learning to make friends.  In fact, time spent working independently on classroom computers competes with person to person and team communications, and allows less opportunities for group problem solving skills.   Think about it.  In our frenzy to have children tech savvy, we freely trade off people savvy. While some argue that people skills can be nurtured later, today’s parents find just the opposite.

Melinda Gates, a mother and tech guru explains, “Parents should decide for themselves what works for their family, but I probably would have waited longer before putting a computer in my daughters’ pockets.  Phones and apps aren’t good or bad by themselves, but for adolescents who don’t yet have the emotional tools to navigate life’s complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up: learning how to be kind, coping with feelings of exclusion, taking advantage of freedom while exercising self-control.  It’s more important than ever to teach empathy from the very beginning, because our kids are going to need it.”

Kids need to practice how to make friends and understand emotions long before entering adolescence.  Skills for friendship, communication, kindness, and empathy are an essential part of education starting in early childhood.  But where do kids practice?  Schools have always served as a perfect environment to learn and practice social skills with peers and adults.  Planting the seeds of social skills early gives adolescents greater confidence to use these skills, which builds resilience that extends into middle school, high school, and beyond.

Here are a few ways for parents to help young children practice friendship skills.  Start early in the school year and invite a classmate:

  • To play in the park with your child
  • For dinner and have your child and the friend help make dinner, set the table, and help clean up. Put on some       music to make clean up fun.
  • To play a board game, work on puzzles, or build a fort with used boxes.

This school year, let’s change STEM to SESTEM: social emotional, science, technology, engineering, and math. Intentionally emphasize social emotional skills to include friendships.  Fostering friendships at all levels of education means making time for kids to practice being human at school.  Developing these human skills takes away anxiety and loneliness that many children and even adults experience.  As children develop social skills and understand emotions, they are better prepared to navigate science and technology both independently and with friends.

Note: If you find this article helpful, please share it with others. Consider a donation to Healthy Learning Paths, so that we can reach more children with Healthy Learning Kids.

Tools to be Cool for a Smooth Back to School

by Katie Martin, Healthy Learning Paths’ Instructor

With school right around the corner, the time for schedules is now!  Remember those melt downs that happen from too little sleep and too much anxiety during the early days of school?  Well, if you have had that “been there and done that” experience, it’s time to give your family a head start before school is in session, especially for those of us who have gone off schedule for the summer.

The new school year stirs up many emotions for children and adults.  Some kids are excited to start a new school year, but others long for never ending lazy afternoons and late summer nights. While this dream is quite normal, it is up to parents to guide children with schedules to decrease stress and anxiety and put kids on the path to school success.

Children show stress and anxiety in a variety of behaviors such as:

  • Difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep
  • Tearful with easily upset emotions
  • Acting out with temper tantrums
  • Being withdrawn and quiet
  • Poor appetite
  • Overeating
  • Headaches or stomachaches

Recognizing these changes helps you help your child. Be supportive and let your child know that the start of something new is a challenge for all of us.  Ask children how they feel and allow them to express concerns with your full attention.  Full attention means without screens or other interruptions. Often children cannot fully verbalize their feelings of inside anxiety.  Many kids cannot tell you why they have certain feelings, they just know those feelings are there.  You can help with these Tools to be Cool tips:

  • Let your child know it is okay to express how he or she is feeling
  • Actively listen without screens or interruptions
  • Help children express what they feel through words and facial expressions
  • Practice slow deep breaths in and out through the nose as a relaxation technique
  • Practice slow stretches with your child
  • Model other calming behaviors for and with your child

An excellent back to school stressbuster is to practice a schedule now.  Schedules help everyone transition to the new school year.  Schedules set children of all ages up for success for the entire school year.

Here is what you can do to start a schedule today and throughout the school year:

  • Set a bedtime routine at the same time every night
  • Have certain times for meals and set a no-screen rule at the table
  • Lay out clothes for the next day before going to sleep
  • Have lunches packed and water bottles filled the night before
  • Have backpacks and supplies ready before bed
  • Healthy after school snacks in the fridge
  • Outdoor activity after school
  • Homework routine when they get home

Stress is common for all of us at the start of the school year.  Stress is part of normal child development. Recognizing when children are stressed and helping them manage stress with support, healthy behaviors, and schedules benefits everyone.  Start your schedule today and you will be rewarded by the ease of that first day of school!

Hack Sleep Disrupters

by Katie Martin, Healthy Learning Paths’ Instructor

Has summer changed your sleep schedule?  How about the sleep schedule of your kids?  For some, summer is known as the sleep disrupter.  Can you relate? With school out and extra hours of daylight, sleep schedules for both kids and adults are disrupted.

So how do you hack the sleep disrupter?  A good night’s rest benefits both mental and physical health. Sleep recharges the body and brain for the next day.  Adults know how hard it is to function when you do not get enough sleep.  With sleep deprivation, even simple tasks become a challenge.  Imagine how a child feels and functions with lack of sleep. Remember children require regular sleep for growth, development, and even learning.

What exactly does sleep do for your child?  Healthy sleep:

  • Increases attention spans,
  • Promotes learning and problem solving,
  • Helps regulate emotions,
  • Promotes positive attitudes and behaviors,
  • Helps with tissue growth and repair,
  • Strengthens the immune system, and
  • Improves mental fitness, physical fitness, and social emotional fitness.

Eliminating distractions before bed and practicing a bedtime routine are the secret sauce to a satisfying night’s sleep. With the start of school right around the corner, now is the perfect time to practice healthy sleep routines. The High Five for Sleep routine is a great way to introduce your child to a healthy bedtime schedule.

So, what is the High Five for Sleep?

  • If your child is hungry, choose a healthy snack without sugar or caffeine.
  • A warm bath or shower is a terrific way to relax before bed.
  • Clean pajamas tells the child to get ready for bed.
  • Brush your teeth is an important part of any bedtime routine
  • Read a story or book signals the body and mind to relax.

Sugar and caffeine are barriers to healthy sleep.  These substances stimulate the brain telling it to wake up.  If your child is hungry before bedtime, a healthy snack can be part of the bedtime routine.  Keep in mind that there is no need to eat before bed, if your child is not hungry.  Some healthy snack ideas include:

  • Celery or apples with nut butter
  • Cereal (without added sugar) and fresh fruit
  • Yogurt (without sugar) and fresh fruit
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Whole grain toast with avocado

After a healthy snack, a warm bath or shower, brushing your teeth and putting on a clean pajamas are healthy and relaxing activities to practice with your child.

Last but not least are disrupters that interfere with brain relaxation and sleep.  Screen time with computers, tablets, TV, video games, or phones signal the brain to stay awake.  This disrupts the sleep cycle making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.  How can you teach children to overcome these sleep disrupters?  Two hours before bed, replace screen time with these activities:

  • Read
  • Draw or color
  • Play a board game
  • Build a puzzle
  • Deep breathing with stretching or yoga
  • Listen to calming music
  • Share a conversation about what happened during the day
  • Pack lunches and fill water bottles together
  • Help your child lay out clothes for the morning and load backpacks

Bedtime routines are powerful to keep your child on a sleep schedule that allows for healthy sleep.  During the day, encourage outdoor physical activity through play as physical activity improves sleep.  Summer offers great opportunities for outdoor activities even if it is a simple walk to the park or a family bike ride.

A good night’s rest helps your child develop healthy habits that last a lifetime.  Healthy sleep puts children on the path to mental fitness, physical fitness, and social emotional fitness.  Guess what?  Healthy sleep routines improve your health too!  So go ahead and hack those summer sleep disrupters at your house.  Try out the High Five for Sleep bedtime routine with your child tonight.  Pleasant dreams!

Brain Food For Mental Fitness

by Katie Martin, Healthy Learning Paths’ Instructor

Have you heard of “brain food?”  Brain food is used when discussing what makes kids smart.  Omega 3 fatty acids are one of those “brain foods.” But foods for the brain, go beyond academics.  Healthy foods have a strong impact on mental health of children and adults.  Our daily food choices make a difference for both physical fitness and mental fitness.

For example, have you ever experienced the sugar roller coaster?  Imagine that mid-morning crash after coffee and sweets for breakfast.  The brain experiences the sugar high jitters then quickly crashes and burns over a short period of time.  Now, imagine a child dropped off at camp after a breakfast of sugar laced cereal or a sweet breakfast bar. Within a few hours, the sugar rush converts to a sugar crash leaving the brain sluggish.  Suddenly, you have a tired, irritable, and hungry child who struggles to concentrate, learn, and manage mood.  Not a great way to enjoy camp or build mental fitness, wouldn’t you agree?

So what does “brain food” do for mental fitness?  The brain needs quality energy to function, just as cars need clean gas to run well.  Keep in mind that the brain of a child undergoes amazing changes as the child grows and develops. Pediatricians remind us that kids who practice healthy food choices experience less anxiety and depression and improved social relationships.  Healthy nutrition helps the brain perform better in school subjects such as math and reading.  Healthy nutrition strengthens the immune system to fight off illness and puts the brain in overall state of well-being.  In short, healthy foods make us feel good and do good, from mental, physical and social perspectives.

What are the “brain foods” for magical mental fitness?  Glad you asked, as it is never too late to make changes.  You can do it.  Here are a few tips to help kids of all ages:

  • Choose seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to stretch your dollars and enjoy great tasty foods.
  • Choose whole grains for breads and pastas.
  • Brown rice, lentils, and beans are important sources of protein, fiber and other nutrients.
  • Choose healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, wild salmon, and lean proteins such as real chicken (not                   nuggets), turkey, and fish.
  • Summer is the perfect time to invite kids to shop and prepare meals with you.
  • Drink water throughout the day and remember summer heat means more water.
  • Have kids clean and slice fresh fruits and vegetables to store in the fridge for quick snacks.
  • Avoid sweet and salty snack aisles in grocery stores to keep your pantry and kids free of junk food jitters.
  • Control sugar cravings with fresh fruits.  Kids can make cool summer treats by freezing fresh fruits.
  • Plan an occasional family outing to make memories while sharing a special treat.

Sugar is not a “brain food.”  In fact, kids do not need added sugar in foods.  Kids love to learn, so teach them how to recognize sugar on food labels.  Sugar is disguised as many names on food ingredients such as:

  • Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup
  • Cane juice and evaporated cane juice
  • Juice Concentrate
  • Sucrose
  • Barley Malt
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose
  • Rice syrup

Sugar is listed as grams per serving.  About 4 grams (4.2 to be precise) of sugar is equal to one teaspoon.  For example, if ¾ cup of cereal has 20 grams of sugar, that is 5 teaspoons of sugar (20 divided by 4).  Yikes!  That’s a lot of sugar.  Want to make the point of how much sugar is in a cereal or other foods?  Do the math with your child and let them measure out the amount of sugar in a bowl.  Seeing what 5 teaspoons of sugar looks like, leaves a lasting impression for kids of all ages.

Healthy foods are brain foods.  Brain foods help kids develop mental fitness.  Healthy foods benefit the entire family. Put your family on the path for success by serving brain foods and staying hydrated with water.  Brain foods benefit everyone in the family by helping all experience mental fitness.  You can do it!

How to Teach Kids Mental Fitness

by Katie Martin, Healthy Learning Paths’ Instructor

Do kids need mental fitness?  This question is rarely asked until a crisis occurs.  What is mental fitness?  Mental fitness is the health of the brain.  Mental fitness includes the ability to think, problem solve, learn, manage emotions, express emotions, and manage social interactions.  Keep in mind that the brain is our control center for everything.  When kids learn skills for mental fitness, they can navigate social interactions, learning in and out of school, and gain a sense of power over their own well-being.  So the answer to, “Do kids need mental fitness?” is a resounding YES!

When exploring healthy lifestyles, mental fitness is often left out of the discussion.  Many parents may not realize that healthy nutrition, exercise, and sleep benefit the mental fitness of kids, as well as adults.  Mental fitness includes the ability to process and express emotions in healthy ways.  Children learn mental fitness skills by observing adult role models, practicing skills, and experiencing what works and where improvements are needed.  Mastering mental fitness skills require practice with face to face human interactions in real time.  Kids cannot master mental fitness over the internet in a social media experience.

When children experience frustration, they will resort to acting out behaviors that range from tantrums to self-harm such as cutting depending on the age of the child if they do not practice skills for mental fitness.  Practicing skills for mental fitness helps kids and parents learn how to manage stressful situations.  These skills result in overall well-being for the whole family.

With summer upon us, this is a terrific time to explore mental fitness for kids.  Summer gives a break from school schedules and more free time.  What is the best use of that free time to help kids practice skills for mental fitness? Glad you asked.  Let’s explore some skills for mental fitness.

Stifle Screen Time

More screen time means less movement for both kids and adults.  In summer, screen time easily increases to all day activities leaving less time for physical activities that promote mental fitness and healthy development.  Children who have high amounts of screen time with TV, computers, or video games, experience more psychological difficulties and emotional issues according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Summer is the perfect time for a turn off the screens movement and explore the outdoors!  Some tips for summer include:

  • No TV’s in bedrooms
  • Plan daily activities for kids such as walks, bike rides, hikes, swimming, visit parks, or school playground.
  • Discourage TV and other screen use for children ages 2 and under.
  • Limit screen time to no more than 1-2 hours a day for all other ages.
  • Use screen time as a family to watch a movie or favorite family show.
  • Turn off the TV and all screens during mealtimes and share conversation.
  • Remember children learn from what you model, so limit your screen time too.

Encourage Exercise

Being physically active is one of the best ways to stay mentally fit.  Best of all, there are plenty of activities that are free and create family bonds.  Children benefit from unstructured play.  Physical activity builds mental fitness.  Physical activity improves:

  • Blood flow to the brain and this manages stress and improves overall brain function.
  • Cognitive function and concentration in both kids and adults.
  • The brain-muscle connection.
  • Restful sleep at night.
  • Attitude and emotional regulation.

Most kids need and want more than 60 minutes of physical activity a day.  Engage children in planning and selecting healthy physical activities.  Unstructured play activities such as tag games, building forts in the yard, and walks allow children to be creative, save parents money, and are enjoyed by the entire family.  Unlike organized activities, children do not suffer burn out or overuse injuries from free play activities.

Luckily, the steps to achieving overall mental fitness and well-being are fun and enjoyable for everyone.  Incorporating a few of these suggestions into your daily routines improve your child’s mental fitness and development.  Guess what?  As a parent, you, too will experience the same benefits to your mental fitness!

So stifle screen time and replace it with cool and fun activities for the entire family.  Keep it simple, cheap, and explore what’s in your community.  Practice mental fitness and make memories for the best summer ever!

Sensational Summer

by Katie Martin, Healthy Learning Paths Instructor, Summer Kid at Heart

Do you remember what it was like to be a kid anticipating summer?  I do!  Summer was camping, bikes, friends, skinned knees, chalk, sprinklers, and not coming home until dark.  What does summer look like for kids today?

With more options on television and video games, are your kids experiencing the excitement of playing outside?  School will soon be out and with summer, kids have opportunities to move more and sit less.  It’s time to make a plan.  Let’s make it a healthy and happy one this summer.  Summer brings its opportunities for fun, and its challenges from heat and sun.

One way to get kids outside is checking out local recreation centers and pools. Many recreation centers offer fun outdoor activities for kids during a busy parent’s work day. When you have time off, plan outdoor activities such as walks, bike rides, visiting parks and, zoos, backyard forts, or even a game of tag at your neighborhood school’s playground.

When playing outdoors in Colorado, here are steps to protect kids from the sun:

  • Apply sunscreen that has at least SPF 30 labeled “broad spectrum” meaning it covers both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
  • Look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as the active ingredients as they are less irritating for sensitive skin and eyes.
  • It is best to apply sunscreen indoors before putting on clothing, at least 15-30 minutes before going outside. Apply about an ounce, which is the size of a shot
  • Reapply every one to two hours or more often after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel. Read the label for recommended reapplication as most sunscreens have 40-80 minutes reapplication times.
  • Active ingredients in sunscreens offer great skin protection, but problems for the lungs. Therefore, spray sunscreens are not recommended for children.
  • Use sunscreen even on cloudy days, as the sun’s rays penetrate through clouds.
  • Wear wide brimmed hats, light colored loose clothing, and sunglasses.

So you have sunburns covered, what else is important for summer fun?  Are your kids drinking water throughout the day?  It’s easy for kids to forget about drinking water, so it’s our job to remind them.  Fill those water bottles with cool, refreshing water, and leave the sugar and caffeine out.

Did you know that sugar and caffeine can actually lead to dehydration?  That’s right, those sugary drinks and caffeinated culprits tell the kidneys to let go of more water.  How much water is a frequent question?  It’s all in the pee.  Look at the color of the pee, and teach kids that it should be pale yellow to clear.  Dark yellow pee is one sign of not enough water or dehydration.

Here are some tips to coach your child to stay hydrated:

  • Teach them to keep a water bottle clean and filled.
  • Add fruit, veggies, or even mint to water for fabulous flavors.
  • Snack on whole fruits and veggies such as melons, oranges, berries, carrots, celery, and others that naturally have high water content.
  • Teach kids to puree fresh fruit to freeze as popsicles for a cool summer treat.
  • Remind kids and ask the kids to remind you to drink water throughout the day.

During summer, plan to avoid emergency room visits by practicing these safety tips:

  • Wear helmets for biking, skating, skateboards, and other wheeled activities.  Brains have to last a lifetime!
  • Practice street safety and help children understand street signs.
  • Accompany your child to the pool and teach safe pool rules.
  • Have your child wear a life jacket when enjoying water sports and swimming, but stay within arm’s reach if they cannot swim.
  • Never leave children alone in cars as this can quickly lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death.

What about summer schedules?  For a healthy and happy child, keeping a summer routine is golden!  If you keep a summer schedule both you and your child will be well rewarded when school starts again in just a few months.

  • Practice regular bedtime routines and wake up routines.
  • Have a few chores for your child as a way to help the family.
  • Summer is great to teach children to plan meals, cook, and clean with your help.
  • Enjoy family meals together and at regular times.
  • Practice reading, art, music, science, math, history, and other activities to keep young minds engaged and curious about the wonderful world of learning!

Enjoy your children and the time you share this summer.  Explore the outdoors, experience new adventures, and create lasting memories for the entire family.  Don’t blink or you may miss it.  Summer flies by way too fast, so be sure to make your summer sensational!

You’re Invited to Our Community to Do Good

by Chris Marchioni, MD, Executive Director, Healthy Learning Paths

Returning from Spring break brings new energy to some and dread for others.  Escaping from busy schedules is a much welcomed change in routines and revitalizes kids and adults alike.  There is no doubt that sharing family time in a relaxed environment is good for all of us.

Want to hold onto a piece of that positive energy?  If you answered, “Yes,” then here is a special invitation for you and your family.  Please join us to be part of our community to do good.  We invite you to experience a morning of family, friendship, and fun on Sunday, April 9th at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield.  Here’s your chance to keep those good feelings you have from Spring break.

What can you expect?  You will experience science demonstrations, try your hand at art and music, enjoy a massage, have your photo taken, register to vote, and even take a journey through Mega Brain to see first-hand what makes you tick.  Did I mention, that you will enjoy delicious food, yoga, and gifts all for free?

What’s the catch?  We invite you to be part of our community to do good at the 8th annual Frank Shorter RACE4Kids’ Health 5K and Expo:  Where Science, Engineering & Health Collide4Kids. This event rallies Colorado around the mental health and physical health of all kids.  Colorado offers tremendous resources when kids are sick.  Did you know that we can also work as a community to prevent kids from getting illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and even anxiety and depression?

One way to help kids stay mentally and physically fit is exercise.  Taking a walk or run as a family also builds communication and trust.  So we have you covered.  You can sign the entire family up to walk or run the 5K.  Your kids are too young for a 5K, you say?  There is the Mazzola Miracle Fun Run that is less than a mile, a Buzz for kids 3-5, and even a diaper dash for kids 2 and under with an adult. No kids?  No worries.  We will amaze you with rockets and even the Flight for Life helicopter that will bring out that inner kid in all of us.

On April 9th, you have the chance to be part of a community to do good at the Frank Shorter RACE4Kids’ Health and Expo sponsored by Centura Health.  This event benefits the nonprofit, Healthy Learning Paths.  Our mission is to spread the power of health for children.  You can help.  Register today at www.frankshorterrace4kids.com and join our community to do good!