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Building healthy families together

Stamford Hospital’s KIDS’ FANS (Fitness and Nutrition Services) program promotes childhood wellness, obesity prevention, and physical activity using a hands-on curriculum that is designed to make learning about healthy eating and regular exercise engaging and interactive for children ages pre-K to high school.  It is a behavioral modification and lifestyle intervention program which empowers children to make healthy behavior choices by giving them the tools and skills they need to best navigate their food and physical activity environments.

Fall 2020 marks the start of KIDS’ FANS 6th year of teaching nutrition education to students in the Stamford Public Schools. Last year, Stamford’s independent Waterside School was added to the roster of schools receiving the health curriculum. In addition, KIDS’ FANS offers individualized nutrition counseling to middle and high school students through the Family Center’s School-Based Health Centers.

Under the leadership of Ilaria St. Florian, MS, RD, the curriculum is continuously updated with the latest evidence-based nutrition guidelines. All KIDS’ FANS programs are taught by Registered Dietitians.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, all programs are currently being taught virtually to students. 

WHY NUTRITION MATTERS

Kids' Fans demo

Studies show that children who are well-nourished and participate in regular physical activity are more focused in school and perform better academically, are less likely to be absent, exhibit fewer behavioral problems, and have increased self-esteem.

However, statistics show that children aged 2-18 consume on average 40% of their total daily calories from foods that are high in sugar and fat and low in nutritional value. Children also spend more than 7 ½ hours a day in front of a screen (TV, videogame, computer, phone) and only one in three children are physically active every day.*

*https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/resource-center/facts-and-statistics/index.html

KIDS’ FANS AND COMMUNITY PARTNERS

Kids' Fans

Since its inception in 2009, KIDS’ FANS has grown significantly in the community as a resource for teaching healthy behaviors to children. As of 2018-2019, KIDS’ FANS was taught in 39 sites* and reached nearly 3,500 children. 

In addition to schools, KIDS’ FANS is taught in summer camps, after-school programs, community sites, and health fairs. 

In 2018-2019, KIDS’ FANS partnered with Vita Health and Wellness Initiative, Fairgate Farm, and the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford to pilot a “Cooking with Kids” program which introduced farm-to-table cooking classes to 5th and 6th graders. The program received funding to hire a professional chef and was co-taught by the manager of Fairgate Farm to reinforce the connection between foods that grow locally and the food that reaches our plates.

As children develop their food preferences in infancy, KIDS’ FANS partnered with Chelsea Piers Kids and Children’s Learning Centers (CLC), the largest childcare provider in Fairfield County, to teach nutrition education to pre-K students (ages 3–5) as well as provide nutrition classes to parents to promote a healthy home environment.

In March 2016 and 2017, KIDS’ FANS, along with the Stamford Children’s Health Collaborative, spearheaded a city-wide nutrition awareness initiative for March National Nutrition Month. The initiative included a kick-off proclamation at City Hall courtesy of the Mayor’s office, followed by a variety of free nutrition and physical activity classes and events for children and their families throughout the month of March.

KIDS’ FANS just completed its 6th year of teaching nutrition education in local summer camps from June to August. Campsites include YMCA, Stamford Recreation Camps, Boys & Girls Club, Yerwood Center, Mill River Park Camp, Chelsea Piers Leadership Academy Camp. 

KIDS’ FANS continues to teach after school programs. Some of these sites also include a cooking component to expose kids to new foods as well as teach kids how to prepare simple but also healthy and affordable meals. The most recent after-school sites include YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, JCC, KT Murphy, Trailblazers, and Yerwood Center.

KIDS’ FANS is the Nutrition Consultant to CP Kids Nursery School at Chelsea Piers,  Domus/Chester Addison Community Center, and the Stamford YMCA.

Community outreach is an integral part of KIDS’ FANS’ role in promoting healthy eating and physical activity and its presence at local health fairs and request for presentations remains robust and ongoing.

In accordance with the Connecticut state-mandated health curriculum, and supported by studies that show the correlation between student health and academic achievement, KIDS’ FANS hopes to fill the gap in schools, as well as in the community, by increasing awareness and improving health behaviors for students and their families. 

*39 sites include: AITE High School, Boys & Girls Club, Carver Center (Norwalk), Chelsea Piers, Childcare Learning Center, Chester Addison Community Center, Cloonan Middle School, CP Kids, Davenport Ridge Elementary School, Dolan Middle School, Domus, Fairgate Farm, FISH, Hart Magnet, Jewish Community Center, Julia Stark Elementary School, K.T. Murphy Elementary School, Mill River Park, New Canaan Community Preschool, Newfield Elementary School, Northeast Elementary School, Ponus Middle School (Norwalk), Rippowam Middle School, Roger’s International, Roxbury Elementary School, Sono Ice, Springdale Elementary School, Stamford High School, Stamford Recreation, Stillmeadow Elementary School, Strawberry Hill School, Tokeneke Elementary School (Darien), Toquam Magnet, Trailblazers, Vita, Waterside School, Westover Magnet, Westhill High School, Yerwood Center, YMCA, as well as health fairs and community presentations

KIDS' FANS is actively involved in supporting the Stamford Children's Health Collaborative

The Collaborative is comprised of a group of community members who are committed to identifying health-related needs and discussing ways to narrow the gap by linking resources and providing programming to parents and children in Stamford with the goal of increasing access to and awareness of nutrition and physical activity for overall wellness and obesity prevention. Stamford Children’s Health Collaborative website:  https://www.stamfordhealth.org/care-treatment/pediatrics/stamford-childrens-health-collaborative/ 

Stamford Children's Health Collaborative

Resources: 

Eat Well and Keep Moving Fortune Teller: Download our worksheet

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