Everyday superheroes

From June 5-11 2017, communities across Canada will be celebrating Parachute Safe Kids Week. This year’s theme “everyday superhero” encourages children to become leaders in road safety by learning how to keep themselves and others safe when they walk, bike or wheel.

Want to get involved? Here are some ideas to get you started:

At school:
• Take a picture showing your class’ pledge to be an #everydaysuperhero using Parachute’s online poster
• Create a bulletin board or art display to share road safety messages and honour your everyday superheroes
• Lead a walk around the school neighbourhood and have students identify safe or unsafe things they notice, then challenge them to come up with solutions
• Recruit a team of student leaders to organize school-wide activities to promote and celebrate road safety

In the classroom:
• The Ontario Road Safety resource provides complete lessons for teaching age-appropriate road safety information. Cross-curricular lessons are available for Kindergarten through Grade 12.
• The TD Think First for Kids program teaches children how to think first and play safely to prevent brain and spinal cord injuries. The resources (available in both English and French) meet Ontario curriculum requirements and are endorsed by Curriculum Services Canada.
• Create a free account, or log into Ophea teaching tools to access lesson plans, curriculum supplements and activities on a range of health topics

At home:
• Teach your child the importance of wearing a helmet and how to make sure it fits properly
• Be a good example by wearing a helmet too
• Set clear, age appropriate safety rules and supervise closely. Children under 10 should not ride on the road alone. They need to practice building safety skills in a safe environment with adults around to role-model and supervise.

Join us in celebrating Safe Kids Week. Share your ideas and everyday superhero moments on Twitter @SMHealthySchool using the hashtag #everydaysuperhero.
~ Stephanie Ross RN

Have more questions? Visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s website www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 to speak with a public health nurse.

Immunizations – it’s always time to update your child’s record

Many families don’t know that they need to update the health unit every time their child receives a new immunization from their health care provider. Having an up-to-date student immunization record on file with the health unit is required for every student. If this information is not provided to the health unit, students may be suspended from school. That’s why we’re sending out a reminder to parents to update student immunization records now.

What information is required?

All students in elementary and secondary school must have proof of up-to-date immunizations for their age according to the provincial publicly-funded schedule for the following:

  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Polio;
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella;
  • Meningococcal disease;
  • Chickenpox (varicella).

Note: two-doses of the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine are required for all students born in 2010 or later.

You can also visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s website to see a copy of the recommended immunization schedule. If your child will not be getting these vaccines, you must provide the health unit with a valid medical exemption or affidavit.

Follow these steps to help protect everyone in your school community:

  • CHECK your child’s yellow immunization card.
  • CONTACT your health care provider to get a record or to get missing vaccines.
  • SHARE the complete record with us at www.smdhu.org/immsonline or fax the record to the health unit at 705-726-3962.

If you have any questions about your child’s vaccinations, give Health Connection a call at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520. The nurses can help make sure your child is immunized according to the recommended schedule and their records are up-to date.

 

~Stephanie Ross RN

Follow the Healthy Schools team on Twitter @SMHealthySchool

Nottawa ES Hits #1 in BrightBites Hall of Fame!

Bright Bites logo

Looking for ways to improve healthy eating at your school? A new provincial program called BrightBites might be just what you need! That was the advice that the health unit’s Registered Dietitian Jody Dawson shared with Nottawa Elementary School last year when they identified healthy eating as a focus for their school learning plan.

Nottawa ES is top of the list in the Bright Bites Hall of Fame

Nottawa formed a nutrition sub-committee with support from students, staff, parents and the health unit and earned seven BrightBites badges, placing them at #1 on the BrightBites Hall of Fame! They engaged students for support and ideas for the breakfast program (they asked for more veggies!!!), and switched to healthy classroom celebrations, rewards, incentives and healthier fundraising options. They also successfully hosted their fun fair sans candy sales and sold fruit kabobs instead. To top it all off, Nottawa is now an order and pick-up site for the Good Food Box programs to make it easy for families to participate.

BrightBites is a free, easy to use, online program that offers tools and resources to help school leaders create a healthier school nutrition environment. Getting started is easy!

Bright Bites First Bite iconSchools can earn digital badges and compete with other teams for a spot on the BrightBites Hall of Fame. Badges are available on a variety of healthy eating topics, such as: packing healthy lunches, classroom celebrations, rewards and incentives, promoting water and reducing sugar sweetened beverages and making curriculum connections to healthy eating.

Think you’re ready to start earning badges for your school? Check out the website and follow the steps listed for the badge you’re interested in. Engage students and start to transform your school with small steps and share your stories and successes. Share your badges on social media or on your school website and claim your spot on the BrightBites Hall of Fame!

Looking for support? Public Health dietitians and nurses from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit are available to assist your school with implementing BrightBites. Contact your school public health nurse or visit www.brightbites.ca to get started.

~ Stephanie Ross RN
Follow the Healthy Schools team on Twitter @SMHealthySchool

Kids are unpredictable: injuries don’t have to be!

As parents, teachers, and role models we know how important it is for kids to get out and explore, discover and creatively problem solve at home and in the great outdoors. At the same time, we want to protect them and keep them safe from injury. Finding a healthy balance can seem tough!

The good news is that many injuries at home, at play and on the road can be predicted and prevented.

Picture of children with Safe Kids Week information

The first step in preventing injuries is to learn about how they happen. It might surprise you to hear that most childhood injuries happen at home. Common causes include: falls, burns, poisoning, choking, strangulation and drowning. Of course playing outside the home has risks too! Falls and serious injuries (like concussions) can also happen at the playground or while playing organized sports. And although walking and wheeling are great ways to get exercise, lack of experience / traffic safety skills, high speeds, loss of control and trying stunts can all put kids at higher risk of injury when getting from point A to point B.

Step two is to create safer spaces for kids to learn, grow and play. Putting safety measures in place at home, checking for dangers before play, and finding safe routes for your child to walk/wheel can all help keep them safe. Parachute Canada’s website offers lots of great information to help you learn how to create a safer environment for your child at home, at play, and on the road.

Step three is to set clear, age appropriate safety rules and supervise closely! Most injuries can be prevented by watching your young child closely and by talking with them about safety from an early age. As your child gets older and gains more critical thinking skills and responsibility, you’ll be able to give them more independence. Teach them how to play with safety in mind; then let them get adventurous. Look for ways to make it enough to say yes!

This week marks the 20th anniversary of Parachute Canada’s “Safe Kids Week”. Join us in raising awareness to keep kids in Simcoe County safe, and have a safe and healthy summer!

~ Stephanie Jones RN

Follow the Healthy Schools team on Twitter @SMHealthySchool

Have more questions? Visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s website www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 to speak with a public health nurse.

The facts of lice

Like everywhere else, there are head lice in Simcoe County. The truth is people have been dealing with head lice for hundreds of years.  We know that it can be upsetting when you find out your child or a student in their class has head lice. That’s why, today, I’m dispelling some of the common myths and answering frequently asked questions to give you the facts of lice!

MYTH vs FACT

MYTH #1: Head lice spread disease and are a hazard to your health.
FACT: While head lice cannot spread disease, they can leave you feeling angry, frustrated, embarrassed and itchy! Head lice are not a hazard to your health.

MYTH #2: People who get headlice are ‘dirty’.
FACT: Getting head lice has nothing to do with being clean. Anyone can get head lice but kids tend to get them more often because they can have head-to-head contact with other children during school and play. The best way to keep head lice in check is to work together to prevent the spread.

MYTH #3: There’s nothing you can do to prevent the spread of lice.
FACT: You can help prevent the spread of lice by teaching your child not to share personal things like hair brushes, combs and hats. It’s also a good idea to set a schedule to check your child’s head regularly.

ANSWERING SOME OF YOUR COMMON QUESTIONS

How will I know if it’s lice?
When checking your child’s head, sit where you have bright light and look carefully for nits (shells containing eggs) and live lice in the hair, behind the ears, and around the neck and hairline. Nits looks like half the size of the head of a pin, shaped like a teardrop and stick to the hair so you can’t blow, flick, or easily slide them off. Lice are about the size of a sesame seed and are very hard to see because they can crawl and hide but they cannot hop or fly. Don’t forget to get your own head checked too!

What do I do if I find nits or live lice?
If you find nits or live head lice, you’ll need to use a head lice treatment to kill them. Make sure to follow the directions, then do a second treatment 7-10 days later to help stop the lice from returning. Head lice are not likely to live in clothing, furniture or bed linen but it’s a good idea to wash bed linen and hats in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer just in case. Storing these items in a plastic bag for 10-14 days will also kill head lice

Can my child attend school if they have head lice?
If your child gets head lice, let your school know. The Simcoe County District School Board asks parents to keep their child home from school until after the first head lice treatment has been completed and there are no live lice on the head.

Anything else I should know?
In addition to letting the school know, it’s also a good idea to tell anyone your child has had contact with so that they can have their head checked too – think of babysitters, grandparents, sports teams or clubs, and friends’ parents. And remember only people get head lice, which is good news for pets!

If you’d like  more information, including details for how to check for and treat lice, visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s website www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.imm2

~ Stephanie Jones RN
Follow me on Twitter @SMHealthySchool

 

Expert tips for eating healthy at school

March Is Nutrition Month! That’s why this month I’ve teamed up with our Registered Dietitian, Jody, to share some tips that will help you choose foods and drinks to give your child the energy and nutrients they need to grow, learn, be more alert and perform better at school!

Tip #1: Good hydration is important for learning and concentration!refillable water bottle

  • Make water your number one choice. Try sending a refillable bottle so that your child can fill up throughout the day.
  • Milk is another a healthy option. Many schools offer milk programs – ask if your child’s school does!
  • Sugary drinks can lead to cavities and don’t provide as many nutritional benefits. We recommend skipping the fruit drinks or pop and packing your child’s favourite fruits and veggies and water instead.

 

Tip #2: For a healthy lunch, include at least three of the four food groups from Canada’s Food Guide.

  • Include least one vegetable or fruit and limit processed foods that often come pre-packaged.
  • Try making your own healthy “lunch kit” by filling a divided container with small ‘bite-sized foods
    like cheese cubes, chicken chunks, veggie sticks or fruit slices.
  • Have your children help plan and pack their lunches with healthy foods.

healthy lunch photo

  • Prepare lunches the night before to avoid the morning rush and refrigerate overnight.
  • Use an insulated lunch bag and a thermos to help keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Wash them in hot soapy water each night.
  • If your child’s school follows a balanced school day, you might find these ideas useful too!

Tip #3: Think about how snacking affects their smile.

smiling tooth cartoonWhen packing snacks, try to include two food groups from Canada’s Food Guide. Make at least one a vegetable or fruit.

Avoid foods and drinks with added sugar. These should be eaten with meals rather than as a snack.

Cheese is a high protein snack that can help fight cavities. For older students, chewing sugar-free gum following snacks also helps fight cavities.

 

imm2Looking for even more healthy eating tips and recipes? Visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s website www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

~ Stephanie Jones RN – Follow me on Twitter @SMHealthySchool

Tobacco-Free Schools Support Healthy Choices

Every 10 minutes in Canada, two teens start smoking cigarettes. One of them will eventually lose their life because of it. Making sure students understand the dangers of tobacco use and positive role modeling at home helps them choose to be tobacco free. Schools also have a role to play to support tobacco-free living and a safe learning and working environment for students and staff.

Two Ontario laws, the Smoke-Free Act (SFOA) and the new Electronic Cigarettes Act (ECA) support tobacco-free schools. The SFOA bans smoking or holding lit tobacco anywhere on school property, at any time, by anyone. (The traditional use of tobacco at ceremonies that are part of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit culture and spirituality is allowed.) The ECA bans the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping materials to anyone under 19 years of age. Additional regulations, expected later this year, will also ban the use of e-cigarettes in all places where smoking is banned.

No Smoking sign

In addition, the Simcoe County District School Board also bans the use of chew, dip, snus and other smokeless tobacco products, as well as new and emerging tobacco industry products, supplies and equipment. Like the provincial laws, the policy applies to everyone coming on to school property including board employees, students, family members, volunteers and visitors. It also applies when off property for school events such as field trips.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is an active partner supporting tobacco-free schools. We offer teacher and school resources to help youth stay or become tobacco free and to encourage parent and community support for tobacco-free living. These include:
• School newsletter, website and PA announcements
• Help for parent education nights that teach strategies to support youth with healthy decision-making
• Scripts for parent nights and community events that highlight the tobacco-free school policy
• Resources for students, staff and family members wanting to quit or cut down tobacco use

The health unit website – www.simcoemuskokahealth.org – is a good place to find information on tobacco use prevention, protection and help to quit. We also offer telephone support through Health Connection by calling 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520. Together we can help youth choose to be tobacco free.

~ Stephanie Jones RN & Leslie Gordon (SMDHU Tobacco-Free Living Program Coordinator)
Follow the Healthy Schools Team on Twitter @SMHealthySchool