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Title:Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ “Connections”
Pub. date: 2004, revised September 2007
Edition: 4th
Includes: 5 lesson curriculum
Audience: Children, Elementary School, High School, Junior High School
Language: English, some USDA materials used are available in Spanish
Description:The Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ “Connections” program expands youth nutrition by exploring and highlighting effective and innovative strategies for educational program delivery. The “connection” alludes to the linking of the USDA, FNS, CES, Family and Consumer Sciences Departments, FCCLA Chapters and Elementary students to deliver quality nutrition education to various ages, cultures and genders. By promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors in children, the prevalence of diet-related health problems can be reduced and much progress can be made toward conquering major childhood health problems.

This tool is a unique and innovative curriculum that “connects” educators, students and parents with the SNAP Program. The FCS students receive nutrition and child development training and then serve as Student Nutrition Volunteer Aides at the elementary level. Curriculum for the program consists of basic lessons, activities, pre/post tests, and an evaluation. Parents also receive nutrition information on a lesson by lesson basis. The fifth lesson is planned and presented by the Student Nutrition Aides. The USDA Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ materials are used to enhance the curriculum lessons. The CES Nutrition Educators follow up with the evaluations and reporting the comments from the teachers and students.

Funding Source: USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, New Mexico State University, and the New Mexico Public Education Department
Developer: Linda Wells, Martha Archuleta, Sandra Dupuy, Gloria Hernandez & Candace Hazlewood
Organization: New Mexico State University CES
Phone: 505-646-1283
Length: 122 pages (total)
Pilot Testing: During fiscal year 204, the curriculum was pilot tested in four New Mexico counties and four school districts. The original curriculum was revised through suggestions made by participating teachers, nutrition educators and students. Since the beginning of the program, there have been 19FCS teachers, 43 third grade teachers, 195 student nutrition aides and 738 third grade students who have participated in the program. The program is beginning to start in schools across New Mexico at this time, with expectations to see an increase in participation statewide.
Assessment instrument Used? yes
Use Restrictions: May copy for educational purposes.
Reviewers Comments: Using many of the Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ campaign’s materials, Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ “Connections” was designed to “connect” program school districts, FCS departments and teachers, third grade classes, parents, and students. Its desire to foster positive behavior change to promote nutrition and health, and reduce the risk of obesity and chronic disease is matched with a variety of motivational activities that support the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid. The sessions encourage families to get involved and adopt healthy behaviors as well.

Building on the Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ campaign, Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ “Connections” centers around a five lesson series intended for third grade students. Each of the first four classes are designed to be taught by Nutrition Educators and the fifth class is designed to be taught by a student nutrition aide. Student aides are middle and high school students who have successfully completed the Eating Right is Basic Enhanced curriculum and received training to work in the elementary setting. The basic topics for each lesson are congruent to the main themes of Eat Smart. Play Hard.™: balance and moderation, healthy snacks, physical activity, and breakfast. The first lesson also covers classroom guidelines, sanitation and food safety, cooking safety, knife safety, and hand washing. The fifth lesson is a summary of the basic topics and will be prepared and presented by the student nutrition aides. The lessons in the curriculum are all outlined thoroughly and include specific goals, learning objectives and activities, a recipe, equipment, food, and material lists, motivational and participatory activities, and a wrap up. Many of the materials are either provided, or available through the Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ web site. Lessons are all based on behavior change theory and include related activities. Materials that are not provided are often items the student already has (such as pencils and crayons) or food items. Some basic kitchen equipment (such as a toaster oven or oven, blender, measuring cups and spoons, cutting boards, plastic knives, etc) may be required for some recipes. The program meets several standards and benchmarks from the areas of Health Education, Career Readiness, Physical Education, Science and Mathematics for students in grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 and all are listed accordingly.

While it may seem difficult to coordinate a program of this size, Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ “Connections” makes it easy. Included with the curriculum is a hierarchy of staffing descriptions (program recommends a food and nutrition specialist, FSNE state program coordinator, 20-25 family and consumer science teachers, 25-30 third grade elementary teachers, 20 county home economists, 20 nutrition educators and no specified number of student nutrition aides), a time line for completion, an estimated teacher time expenditure for the program (for both the family and consumer science teachers and the third grade teachers), a sample memo for to inform family and consumer science teachers of the program, a teacher agreement including time and effort log, and a letter for parents of students in the program. Tracking and evaluation materials are also included, such as a database lesson record sheet, student nutrition aide information sheet, assistance and guidelines for preparing the program report and presentation (participants are instructed to prepare a display showing evidence of program activities and present an oral presentation summarizing the project), rating sheets, and evaluation forms for teachers, nutrition educators, elementary students, and student aides. A 15 question “Power Quiz” based on the materials in the session is also included for evaluating student knowledge. These items should assist with program implementation; however are not required to conduct the sessions.

Although the description of this program is very specific, the lessons are flexible and can be applied with a number of different grade levels and situations. Time frames are given for the lessons (about an hour each), however, lessons can be adapted for the time available. The document layout is well designed but could benefit from numbered pages. The guidance and sample documents provided may be used as a reference to help users apply and adapt the program to local community needs, rather than as an integral piece of the program. Lessons are well written and include fun activities to motivate children to eat healthier, and can benefit nutrition educators looking for guidance in applying the Eat Smart. Play Hard.™ initiative. Program is available electronically (free) or distributor can send a CD by mail (at small cost to cover shipping and handling).

View/download files: 
PDF file (3.55 MB):
Contact the Distributor:
    Distributor: New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service
    Contact: Linda Wells
    Mail: P.O. Box 30003 MSC 3AE
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88003
    Phone: 505-646-1283
    Ordering: contact Linda Wells, developer and author, for electronic distribution
    Cost: 5.00 per CD (to cover shipping and handling)
    Avail. in Qty: Yes

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