Healthy Giving for Healthy Living

Holidays are the Perfect Opportunity to Instill Healthy Habits

Holiday gifts are often as decadent as the parties at which they are given. Occasions for overindulging are frequent for the last weeks of the year, just as physical activity levels decline thanks to shorter, colder days.   Gift giving – to family members, teachers, friends and coworkers – is a perfect opportunity to contribute to their good health.

“The toys and games that kids receive as gifts often encourage sedentary behavior,” says Rob Bisceglie, Executive Director of Action for Healthy Kids.  “Adults can teach and model healthy habits by giving presents that encourage physical activity.”

Action for Healthy Kids suggests these easy ideas for giving the gift of health this holiday season:

• Fresh produce.  Find bountiful baskets at a local grocery store, send a bushel from an online citrus grower, or join an online “Fruit or Veggie of the Month” club.

• Join a gym.  Give membership to an athletic club or the YMCA.

• Find a fun fitness class.  Gift certificates are available for gymnastics, yoga, aerobics, rock climbing, tae kwon doe, dance lessons and dozens of other active endeavors.

• Make a healthy toolbox.  Give toys that can be used in the basement or garage during inclement weather.  Include balls, jump ropes, hula hoops, bubbles, and chalk for hopscotch.

• Embrace the cold.  Snow toys, skis, sleds, and skates make cold weather fun!

• Plan a family adventure.  In lieu of wrapped presents, an active vacation will thrill the family!  Try hiking, biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, or a walking trek.

• Make the most of screen time.  Kids of all ages love motion-controlled video games, music video dance games, and exercise DVDs.

• Don’t forget the favorites.  Bikes, tricycles, pogo sticks, roller or in-line skates, and scooters have always kept kids moving!

“A fresh, health-driven perspective can make the holiday season an opportunity for children and adults alike to start practicing healthier habits,” says Bisceglie.  “Why wait for the New Year?”

About Action for Healthy Kids

Action for Healthy Kids® is the nation’s leading nonprofit and volunteer network fighting childhood obesity and undernourishment by helping schools become healthier places and our kids learn to eat right and be active every day.  A collaboration of more than 67 organizations, corporations and government agencies supports grassroots efforts by thousands of volunteers nationwide.  In 2009 Action for Healthy Kids reached nearly 4 million children in 8,000 schools. More information is available on Facebook and on Twitter.

Project Creek Bank

This past Saturday was a workday on Project Creek Bank at The Learning Center.

Project Creek Bank is a combined effort to rid the creek that flows by our school of invasive plants while leaving the natives to thrive and protect the creek bank. Tony Ward, with Hiwassee Rivershed Coalition, brought several helpers and joined with Learning Center staff and parents to make this a productive day.

Progress was made and much was learned about both invasive and native plants.

Thank you Tony and volunteers!

Community of Learners

Here at The Learning Center! Charter School we often refer to ourselves as a Community of Learners. If you listen to enough of our conversations you will begin to recognize that many of the adults that make up our school population are prime examples of being “learners for life.” One of the examples that comes to mind first is our Ms. Nancy: classroom assistant, Community Involvement Coordinator, sometime fundraiser, in general, the person who keeps us all informed about any and all seasonal celebrations and historical events. I often describe her as the equivalent of a full wing of the library when it comes to knowledge that she has gained through travel. Impressed as I am with her travels, more importantly Ms. Nancy has recognized the importance of instilling in her granddaughter an awareness of the world and the endless ideas that can be learned by crossing geographical boundaries. In short, Ms. Nancy’s example was my inspiration to provide travel experiences to our students. Several events of the past few weeks have heightened my awareness of the “Ms. Nancy personalities “of our campus that provide an endless sense of possibility and richness of experience:

Monster Mash is an annual event here on our campus that takes place the two Saturdays prior to Halloween. It seems to have a life of its own, growing, becoming, and most importantly bringing together a creative community that begins planning for the next year sometimes as soon as the morning after . The majority of the key people behind this event are already starting many of their sentences with “Next year, we could….” I love that I have a second grade student that never fails to ask me in November if I have a plan for the next Mash and to let me know that he has a few ideas if I need some. What an inspiration it was today to receive an email from one of the high school volunteers that helped with the acting in the Maze. She was so enthusiastic as to suggest that we do a Christmas event of some sort and that she would be more than willing to help out. It is my hope that Monster Mash continues to bring out creative learning in this community for years to come.

As part of their Venture Out Program, a cross-curricular study that extends the classroom into a variety of mountain locations, our 8th graders, some staff and several interested adults from the community headed out this past Friday for our annual trek to Hazel Creek, the site of one of many displaced communities that exists as a result of TVA dams being built. Although an early snow stopped us just outside of Topton, our “learning spirit” just could not be stopped. In the course of trying to make the decision as to whether we could possibly go on to Robbinsville and cross Fontana Lake on a pontoon, we had the privilege of talking to the aunt of one of our students whose mother was a Hazel Creek resident. A parent, Nanette Davidson, shared stories that her husband knew of the history of the TVA dams. We headed back to Murphy with plans to go to Hazel Creek in the spring. As Tipper Pressley pointed out, “That will give us a chance to see all the spring flowers that the Hazel Creek folk planted so long ago, especially the hardy daffodils.” Ms. Christy, writing and literature, was busy planning interviews with Hazel Creek folk and how community people could be used to enrich student learning in folklore and journalism skills. I also found myself thinking of other ways we could bring the “Hazel Creek history” to life for our students. What a productive learning experience and we never even made it past the turn to Robbinsville!

As a Community of Learners we create many rich opportunities for learning. Saturday morning brought another such opportunity in the form of an “adults only” workday on Project Creek Bank, an effort to rid the creek that flows by our school of invasive plants while leaving the natives to thrive and protect the creek bank. Tony Ward, with Hiwassee Rivershed Coalition, brought several helpers and joined with Learning Center staff and parents to make this a productive learning work experience. We spent a great deal of conversation time as we worked learning from Tony about the many plants that grow in this area. However, our conversation also turned to other topics including the postponed trip to Hazel Creek the day before since a couple of the workers had also gone on that trip. As it turned out, one of the Creek Bank parent volunteers is a Proctor descendant, with stories to tell of family members that once lived in the neighboring, displaced community next to Hazel Creek.

In conclusion, learning is contagious. It thrives on our campus. The examples are endless, from Odyssey of Mind volunteers and participants, to four more string scholarships made available recently, and so many more. I cannot imagine a day without learning. If you are not involved in a Community of Learners, I suggest you give it a try.

A Big Thank You

As director of The Learning Center! Charter School, I would like to thank all the parents, grandparents, teachers and community volunteers who helped make our “Alice in Underland” Halloween event such a huge success. This is our seventh year providing a safe, all-ages, community-wide Halloween event. We had people attending from all over the tri-state area including Florida!

On our two event nights, many comments were made about the incredible costumes, make-up, set detail inside the maze, and the amount of creativity that was evident in the volunteer work behind the event.

We thank the high school students and community members who played roles in the maze. Tri-County Early College High School, Murphy and Andrews High School students volunteered time for acting, make-up and sets. All these students will receive community service hours for their involvement.

We appreciate and thank community members and business supporters. An event of this magnitude would not be possible without them.

We want to recognize our main event Gold Level sponsors: Sounds Good Electronics, Macon Bank and George’s Butcher Shop. Our Silver Level sponsors were Dr. Conner & Dr. Hayes, MMC and Ground to Graphics. Bronze Level sponsors were Studley Chiropractic, Party Outlet and Farley Insurance.

Thanks to our community supporters and volunteers:
Board Members and Staff of The Learning Center!

Costume judges Mary Ricketson, Becky Barton and Doc Richard Knee

Dickey Supply

Equine Second Chance

Joe Fowler

Tim Noland

Tri County Early College, Murphy and Andrews high school students

Wayne Roshaven and BJ McFalls

And to those who gave anonymously so students could participate in the fun during these tough economic times.

Physical Fitness Achievements & the Golden Dumb Bell Award

We are proud of our physical fitness achievements here at The Learning Center!  and find ways to honor and celebrate high achievers.  New this year is the Golden Dumb Bell Award.  Be sure to watch the video below to find out what it is!

2009-2010 National Physical Fitness Award winners

2009-2010 Presidential Physical Fitness Award Winners

The Golden Dumb Bell

The 4th grade class wins the Golden Dumb Bell Award for 1st quarter 2010