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Nutrition workers aim for healthy living
Yoga airplane
Bradwell Institute English teacher Brian Rothwell (white T-shirt) instructs nutrition workers earlier this month on the merits of healthy living. - photo by Andrea Washington
Class may not have been in session for students, but attendance was required for Liberty County School System nutrition workers earlier this month.
As part of the county’s school nutrition in-service program, nearly 130 nutrition employees participated in classes to learn the merits of healthy living.
During his yoga session, Bradwell Institute English teacher Brian Rothwell had workers walk two laps around the BI lunchroom, while explaining how a short power stroll can substitute for the costs and time involved in participating in local gyms.   
“Just by walking you’re burning calories and adding your arms increases your heart rate,” he said. “We don’t have to buy expensive equipment and we don’t have to join a gym if we don’t want to.”
He said managing meals — not starving — is another key factor in healthy living.
“Eat whatever you want to, but don’t eat all of it,” Rothwell said. “It really doesn’t matter what you eat, it’s how much of it.”
Once in the commons area, the English teacher took workers through a series of yoga stretches, including one relaxation series that caused some to relax to the point of snoozing and others to the point of feeling more of their body than expected.
“I hurt all over,” one Snelson-Golden Middle School employee joked with co-workers.
In her chronic disease prevention class, retired pediatrician Dr. Grace Bautista reiterated the idea of food portioning and added dessert choices are the culprit for many people.
“There’s 450 calories in a piece of carrot cake,” she said. “You have to ask yourself, am I willing to spend an hour exercising for this one piece of carrot cake?”
She also handed out Body Mass Index (BMI) charts to help employees understand the importance of controlling their weight to create healthier bodies.
Continuing with the importance of weight control, Dr. Michael T. Adams of the Chatham County Health Department told employees that “intentional weight loss and not gaining weight” also assists in decreasing cancer risks.
Although the day was about informing nutrition workers on how to keep their own bodies healthy, they were also reminded of the role they play in keeping the county’s children healthy.  
“I know you have more of an impact than me,” she said during one of her sessions. “It’s in your hands. You’re the boss of the food here.”
With a 42 percent breakfast and 83 percent lunch participation rate, school system nutrition director Dr. Christine Draffin agreed that school provided meals play an integral role in student health.
“We hope to team up with parents and family members at home,” she said. “But we realize we serve at least one of their [students’] primary meals - their lunch.”
According to Draffin, the reviews for the in-service program were excellent and employees requested all three presenters come back for future programs.
“Each of the three presenters had high, high reviews,” she said. “They [nutrition workers] all had a good time.”
The nutrition director added she was pleased with the employees’ performance throughout the program.
“I’m proud of all our staff for eagerly participating and representing the school nutrition program professionally,” Draffin said.

SIDEBAR: With many school systems nationwide continuing to struggle to create and implement healthier student meals, Liberty County School System nutrition workers had something else to smile about during the in-service.
“I would like to announce that the Liberty County School Wellness Policy became the Model of Georgia School District Policy as adopted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Georgia Chapter,” Bautista said to a cheering crowd. “We are indeed very proud of the Liberty County School System.”
Approved last March by the Liberty County School Board and published in the AAP’s fall 2006 newsletter, the wellness program places calorie and sugar restrictions on items available in school snack machines.
The new guidelines went into effect at the beginning of the 2006-07 school year.

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