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Published in Print: May 12, 1999, as Early Years

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Early Years

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Healthy Children: Child-care providers in North Carolina have a new resource they can use to encourage young children to develop a healthy lifestyle.

"Be Active Kids," a nutrition and physical-fitness curriculum put together by a coalition of health experts in the state, is being used at 300 centers in two counties, and teachers in nine more counties are receiving training in the program.

The curriculum kits include nutrition tips, recipes, physical activities, and lesson plans that integrate math, science, music, and drama. The activities, such as obstacle courses and picnics, revolve around five characters--Blue the "caring cub," Glide the bird, Swing the monkey, a rabbit named Leap, and Dart the dog.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the North Carolina Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, the North Carolina Nutrition Network, and the North Carolina Health and Fitness Foundation developed the program.

The curriculum was designed, in part, as a response to statistics on the health of the state's children. A recent statewide fitness study showed that North Carolina's school-age children, on average, are less flexible, have poorer cardiovascular fitness, and have a higher percentage of body fat than children nationwide.

Another study found that youths in the state were two to three times more likely to be obese than their peers in other states.

Those interested in the program may call Fred Hartman in the public relations department of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina at (919) 765-4933.

Teachers' Support: Children's relationships with their teachers are always important, but they may be even more important for children who are growing up in stressful environments, says a new book by Robert C. Pianta, an education professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

In Enhancing Relationships Between Children and Teachers, Mr. Pianta writes that support from teachers can promote children's positive development and academic progress even when the children's parents are facing emotional, physical, or economic stress.

Youngsters who have supportive relationships with teachers are less likely to drop out of school or exhibit risky behavior and more likely to succeed academically and socially, Mr. Pianta concludes. He draws on findings from the fields of school, clinical, and developmental psychology.

The book is published by the American Psychological Association.

--Linda Jacobson ljacobs@epe.org

Vol. 18, Issue 35, Page 18

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