August Hero: Sara Vance Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor from San Diego, CA!
Submitted and written by Jeff Vance
Sara Vance has been in the fitness industry for almost 20 years. Troubled by the statistics facing our country’s youth, a few years ago Sara decided to focus and specialize on kids’ nutrition and health. Founder of Rebalance Life™, Sara Vance is a Clinical Nutritionist, Kids Yoga Instructor, and ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor. She shares her passion and knowledge about nutrition and healthy lifestyles via school assemblies, classes, her blog/Facebook, and as a regular contributor on local television shows (Fox 5 San Diego Morning Show and Channel 6 – San Diego Living).
A picky eater and overweight as a child, Sara developed the “Food is Your Fuel™” School Assembly to make nutrition fun and get kids excited. Sara’s concepts are unique and memorable. She teaches kids about the “Sugar Rollercoaster™”, “Eating a Rainbow”, and being “Adventurous Eaters”. Sara also has a unique program called “5 a Day Bandz™” a fun, visual, and tactile way to encourage eating 5 fruits & veggies a day using the ever-popular Silly Bandz! 5 a Day Bandz are bracelets that students use to mark how many fruits and vegetables they have eaten in a day. Students start with five bandz on their left wrist then, as they eat a serving of fruit or vegetable, they move a band to their right wrist. The end goal is to help kids learn how food, exercise, and stress management can help their minds and bodies function at their best.
Sara recently delivered her assembly in two local schools to kick off salad bars donated by “Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools." During her presentations it is amazing how excited the students get about nutrition, a subject many people think kids will find too boring. At every assembly Sara crowns a "Carrot Crunching Champ" and at one in particular, the winner was still wearing his crown proudly at the end of the school day! The students were able to put the concepts they learned into action right away as they used their brand new salad bar for the first time after the assembly. Since the assembly, Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School has received many encouraging emails from parents whose children shared highlights from the assembly when they got home and spoke of trying salad for the first time. This year, Sara is planning to take her assemblies on the road to reach more schools across the country.
With a marketing background, Sara knows partnerships are critical to success and is teaming up with Whole Foods to offer kids’ cooking and nutrition classes. She is a community partner with the San Diego Girls Scouts of America, teaching nutrition and yoga classes to local troops and is currently developing relationships with healthy food companies to partner with and help reverse the childhood obesity trend. In addition to teaching classes, Sara is also scheduled to appear on local television stations to share her fun & healthy lunchbox tips. She writes about her classes and the topics for her TV appearances here on her blog, Building a Healthy Lunchbox.
Sara is passionate about what she does and believes that together we can all make a difference in kids' well-being.
“Education fosters independence in all areas of kids’ lives - including health & wellness.” - Sara Vance
We at TheLunchBox.org are so excited about Sara’s work! Sara proves that it only takes one person to make a huge difference in the lives of many.
Here are some tips right from Sara about how to make a difference in your community:
Create a wellness committee! Parents, teachers, staff and even students can join! This committee can come up with some guidelines and programs to make sure that the student's health is a top priority and that healthy foods are brought into schools.
Partner! A cool example of this is Ocean Knoll Elementary in Encinitas, CA - one of the schools that got the Lets Move Salad Bars to Schools grant (salad bar donation) invited me to do an assembly. One of the things their wellness committee has set up is a partnership with Scripps Health to offer free regular health tests like cholesterol screenings for parents. They also have organized an early morning workout program - that is not just for the kids, but also for the parents too! Parents come in to volunteer to teach yoga or lead the workouts - and lots of families participate together! The workouts and screenings have made a huge difference in the health & wellness of many families there!
Switch out School Lunch. There are cool companies out there now like Green Bellies in Southern, CA that can revolutionize the nutrition of school lunches - while staying within tight school budgets, and keeping it kid-friendly. Schools just don't have to be stuck with chicken nuggets that seem more like bouncy balls than food!
Start a School-wide "Lunchbox Hero" contest! Students can make suggestions about what things they would do to improve the health & nutrition at their school - everyone would vote on the suggestions - and the suggestion with the most votes could be implemented and the student that suggested it would be the new Lunchbox Hero!
Get Kids Cooking! Seek out kids cooking classes in your area. Or ask a local chef to come into your school to do a demo. Parents and kids can watch cooking shows on TV and try them at home. Picky eating is a big problem in this country, and kids that cook are more likely to try new foods. Locally here there are weekly kids cooking classes that kids can take part in at a place called The Center for a Healthy Lifestyle in Solana Beach, CA. Seek out kids cooking classes in your area.
Grow a garden! Many schools can integrate science and nutrition by growing a garden. Kids love to learn where their foods come from (and get their hands dirty!). At Olivenhain Pioneer in Carlsbad, CA and Ocean Knoll in Encinitas, CA- they have wonderful vegetable gardens that are integrated into the science curriculum. The students plant and care for the vegetables, which eventually end up in the salad bar! Kids love to eat the veggies that they grew.
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