Cindy Harper 2019.JPG

Cindy Harper is the new SNAP-Ed Educator at the St. Clair Count Extension office and will help educate students on nutritional programs. Photo submitted

Technology may be blamed for contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic, but Alabama SNAP-Ed educators are actually using it to help combat the problem.

The new SNAP-Ed Educator, Cindy Harper joined the St. Clair County Extension Office family this week. Harper earned her B.S. degree in early childhood education from UAB and has taught school and worked with young children for many years. She is excited about this opportunity to teach students about nutrition and making healthy food choices.

Harper will be using iPads to teach third-graders health and nutrition lessons with a program called Body Quest, Food for the Warrior. This national award-winning program was developed at Auburn University by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s SNAP-Ed staff. It introduces students to anime-style characters through iPad apps that help students learn about healthy lifestyles. The primary goals of the program are to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, increase physical activity, improve sleep habits and enhance family involvement. During the course of the program, students will get to know the Body Quest Warriors like Shining Rainbow, Graino Supa, Fiberlicious, and Muscle Max. Each character represents a different healthful message.

During the 2017-2018 school year, SNAP-Ed educators provided the Body Quest program to 6,580 third graders in 54 Alabama counties including St. Clair County, 117 schools, and 346 classrooms. All schools were SNAP-Ed eligible with more than 50 percent of students receiving free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Classes included a mix of educator-led discussion, guided vegetable tasting experiences, and iPad app reinforcement lessons narrated by the anime-style Body Quest Warriors, who possesses super powers from eating healthy foods. All curriculum materials were developed based on Experiential Learning Theory to be behaviorally focused and developmentally appropriate.

Body Quest also engaged more than 5,000 parents with recipe testing activities and text message-based education. Simultaneously with BQ classes, parents joined the Recipe Tester Club and received a series of seven inexpensive, simple, and kid-friendly vegetable recipes to prepare and test with their children at home.

For more information about this program, please visit http://livewell.aces.edu/body-quest-in-schools/ or call Cindy at the St. Clair County Extension Office at 205-338-9416.

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