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NHS students promote healthy eating to peers

By Everett Brazil, III

The Newkirk Herald Journal

NEWKIRK — Many studies have shown how certain foods and beverages can impact one’s body and health, whether helping live an active lifestyle or causing one to feel slow and groggy. That is especially important for younger generations, who must cope with staying active in school. Several Newkirk High School (NHS) students recently learned about those foods and how they impact the body, and helped educate their peers during school hours to be more fit and healthy as their bodies are still growing.

The students presented Swap Up, a program of TSET (Tobacco Settlement Endowment Fund). It is the second year they have participated in the program, but the first year they presented the information to fellow students. They also participated in the Youth Action for Health Leadership, another TSET program.

Swap Up is designed to help “swap” unhealthy foods for those that are nutritious.

“It is a chance to give kids a healthy option for snacks,” Torynn Smykil said.

The event was held outside Lori Mayden’s classroom, who is the advisor of the program. They provided healthy food options at the booths for the students, which included sunflower seeds, broccoli, low-sugar snack, kiwi, nuts and trail mix, and even water to wash it down.

A second table had a game where students could try to guess what foods were identified in variety of categories in how they affect the body and mind.

The students saw a number of fellow classmates take interest in their healthy offerings.

“We had a really good turnout. We ran out of food, and it was packed,” Kera Beshirs said. “Teachers actually brought it to class.”

While the event was held only in the last few weeks, it actually started long before that.

“At the beginning of the year, we had training with about 20 students, and those are the ones participating at NHS,” Taylor Bedore said.

There was a lot of health information given out, including how different foods impact the body, which was detailed in information handouts, as well as a game where students could try to identify what the food items do to the body. Groups included foods that made one happy, strong, energized or focused.

“We put a (food) family down and you had to choose what food made you feel the way you do,” Bedore said. “A lot of people didn’t expect certain foods in certain categories.”

Indeed, a lot of food families may be surprising to the average consumer.

“The happy category includes fruit, vegetables, yogurt, applesauce,” Bedore said. “A lot of what people felt made them happy, like pastries and bread, actually makes you stressed.”

Even energy drinks are unexpected on the effects on health.

“Energy drinks don’t make you energetic, they make you sluggish,” Bedore said.

The students were excited to be a part of helping fellow peers learn to live healthier, and plan to do it again.

As for the program itself, all schools in Oklahoma are able to participate in promoting healthy eating to their students.

“Swap Up is open to any school that wants to do it,” Bedore said.

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