Lake Travis ISD Wellness Watch


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NUTRITION: Summer Fun with Food: enjoy the summer with some fun food experiences

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Mental Health is More Important than a Trophy: an open letter

HEALTHY LIVING: Why do they DO That? adolescent brain development and behavior

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: It's Time to Unplug: give yourself permission

ADDITIONAL CONTENT: Summer Newsletter from Texas Education Agency: summer learning, mental health, summer meals, how to raise a reader

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by: Marissa Albers, MPH, RD

Lake Travis ISD Dietician and FANS Marketing Coordinator

Summer is officially here! Warmer weather brings longer days and more time with friends and family. Often, that means parents are left to entertain. Here are some ideas to help pass the time with some fun food experiences!

Go to a Farmers Market

June and July bring some of the best seasonal produce of the year. Visit your local farmers market to shop around, spend some time outdoors, and explore the flavors of a Texas summer. This is also a great way to get your child excited about trying new foods, especially fruits and vegetables! Here are two farmers markets near Lakeway, TX.

Lonestar Farmers Market

12700 Hill Country Blvd

Bee Cave, TX 78738

Open Sundays, 10 AM - 2 PM

Pedernales Farmers Market

23526 State Hwy 71

Spicewood, TX 78669

Open Sundays, 10 AM - 2 PM

For some extra fun, download and complete a Farmers Market Scavenger Hunt with your child!

Try a New Recipe

Summer is a great time to experiment with new ingredients or seasonal produce. Not sure what to do with the squash or eggplant you picked up at the farmer’s market? Try searching for recipes by ingredient or produce type! Brighter Bites focuses on creating fun food experiences for kids, and offers a great recipe library organized by produce type (A-Z). Food52 is another great resource to search for recipes by the ingredients you have at home.

For some extra fun, get your kids involved in the kitchen! Elementary age children can help in the kitchen by measuring ingredients, washing produce, mixing, or setting the table. Teens can take on some extra responsibility by slicing and dicing or helping to plan the menu.

Enjoy a Picnic

Grab a basket to relax and enjoy the outdoors! Picnics are often less expensive than eating out and are a great change of pace without breaking the bank. They can be as simple as packing a one-pot meal like a hardy pasta salad, or as complex as bringing an Instagramable charcuterie spread with sparkling beverages and fun decorations! No matter how intricate your spread is, aim for a colorful picnic packed with fruits and vegetables. Toss them in your pasta salad, slice them on your sandwich, or cut them up to enjoy with spreads and dips. Focusing on fruits and vegetables provides balance in nutrition and flavor while helping you stay hydrated.

Checkout these scenic picnic spots around town!

  • Lakeway City Park

  • Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park

  • Hamilton Greenbelt

  • Dragon Park

  • City of Bee Cave Central Park

  • Krause Springs

  • Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center (in designated areas)

Visit a Farm or Urban Garden

Learn more about where your food comes from by visiting the source! Many farms will provide tours, or have days where they are open to the public. This is a great learning opportunity that encourages exploration with food, and even raises larger questions with teens involving things like sustainable farming practices and animal welfare. Here are some local farms to check out:

Boggy Creek Farm

Texas Honeybee Farm

Greener Pastures Chicken

The Jersey Barnyard

True Harvest Hydroponic Lettuce

Growtopia Farms

Cool off at the Museum of Ice Cream

The Museum of Ice Cream’s Austin location opened last summer in The Domain. Here, you’ll find an immersive, Willy Wonka-esque experience that is fun for the whole family! Learn about the history of ice cream, taste a variety of ice cream in different shapes and forms, and play in a pool of sprinkles! Don’t forget to take lots of pictures!

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By: Coach Z (Danielle Zibilski)

Physical Education and Health Teacher, Serene Hills Elementary School

To the parents and coaches of our young athletes:

We need to address mental health and be on the look out for warning signs in all of our children, however, lately we are seeing more and more athletes fall deep into the struggle. Please take a second to look at all of these young, beautiful student-athletes, who are someone’s child or player. There is a stigma behind mental health that has yet to be addressed in the world of sports. According to Athletes for Hope, 33% of college student athletes experience significant symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions. Injuries, emotional stress, and physical strain can put student-athletes at higher risk of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts than their non-athletic peers. Progress and awareness is being made, but not quick enough to save the lives we already lost.

Let me tell you, being a student athlete, a daughter/son, a friend, a girlfriend/boyfriend, a granddaughter/grandson, while playing a sport is a hard thing to do. To anyone that thinks it is not and these student athletes “have it all” going for them, you’re sadly mistaken. It is a grind that takes a toll both physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally.

I hope every parent takes this summer to look at their kid and understand that even though they are amazing at their sport, got great grades, and have great friends, they might still be struggling mentally. Stop and ask yourself, how is he/she ACTUALLY doing as a human being? I want every coach to look at their players and think and ASK how are you ACTUALLY doing? How is my team doing?

Many of us were once student athletes in middle school, high school, and college. It is hard to remember just how tough and stressful it is to juggle school, athletics, social pressures, and family responsibilities. Sports are time consuming. School life has gotten more rigorous since us parents were in school. Please remember what it was like and give your children/players grace. Sports are fun, important and have amazing benefits, but they can also be taxing and stressful. Create an open, trusting relationship for them to be able to communicate all aspects of their lives with you. Take one on one time to be present and ready to listen. Losing these precious lives needs to stop.

Mental health is more important than a trophy.

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Written By: Becca Harkleroad, RN, NCSN

Lead Nurse, Lake Travis ISD

Let’s talk about brain development. In past newsletters, we've covered the importance of good nutrition, plenty of water, breaks from technology, and quality sleep related to healthy brain development in children and adolescents. As the human body grows, the brain does too. It reaches its full size during adolescence, somewhere between 11 and 14 years. After that, it may not grow in size, but there’s still plenty of development occurring in all areas of the brain.

Parents of tweens and teens, I’m looking at you now. Have you ever looked at your kid and wondered, “Why would you DO something like that? What were you THINKING?” Well, you’re not alone in that. There’s actual science behind why kids sometimes do stuff that is impulsive, irrational, even dangerous - the decision-making and impulse-control parts of their brains aren’t fully developed.

The part of the brain that is responsible for emotional reactions - specifically fear and aggression - develops early in a human’s life. The good news? That part of the brain - the amygdala - has kept human civilization alive for ages. It’s the home of the fight-or-flight response. YAY amygdala! However, the part of the brain that controls reasoning and helps us think before we act? That part - the frontal cortex - doesn’t fully develop until early adulthood, typically in the mid-20s.

So, we’ve got these grown-up sized brains in these adolescent kids, and the part that sends a signal saying, “YES! Let’s DO IT!” is aiming for the outfield while the part that sends a signal saying, “WAIT! Let’s think before we act!” is still in the dugout.

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says adolescents are more likely to:

  • Act on impulse

  • Misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions

  • Get into all kinds of accidents

  • Get involved in fights

  • Engage in dangerous or risky behavior

… and they’re less likely to:

  • Think before they act

  • Pause to consider the consequences of their actions

  • Change their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors

Does this mean that teenagers can’t ever make good decisions? Or that they shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions? No. No way. Neither of those are true. However, if parents, teachers, and other grown-ups have an idea of what’s going on in their child’s head, it will help them to understand where their kid is coming from (even when it feels like the only right answer is ‘outer space’) and can guide decisions to help manage their behavior.

So, as parents, family members, educators, and community members, what can we do? Helene Wingens, former attorney and now managing editor of the Grown & Flown community (which specializes in all things related to surviving high school, what happens after high school, and supporting kids through college and in the real world), wrote a letter from a teenager’s perspective on how we can help them through this crazy time in their brains. You can find it HERE.

The short version? Model adulting. Let kids learn from their own mistakes. Keep the big picture in mind. Remind kids of ways to be safe. Be kind. Stay connected, even if it seems impossibly hard. It IS hard. It’s also the best thing you can do for your kids.

Not sure where to start when it comes to communicating with your kids? The Child Mind Institute has some great tips on its website's "Teens & Young Adults" section.

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By: Jennifer Lyon, MEd

Director of Health and SEL

Summer is finally upon us and it’s time to unplug, unwind, and give yourself and your family a break.

These last few years have been more than hard for so many in so many ways. Most of us are wound up pretty tight due to the bad news we hear daily, the increasing inflation, and just the general difficulty that has become our everyday life. It’s time to take a collective breath, inhale, hold it and exhale. It’s time to take a break from all that causes us stress and strife.

Unplug from social media, turn off the news, turn off the alarm clock (when you can) and just be present in the moment. Model this for your kids, family, friends and neighbors. Spend time outdoors, go on a road trip, escape to the movie theater, jump in the lake, play! Put your worries in a box on the shelf and save them for another day. Make it your goal this summer to just be present in the moment.

We all need this reset. Take time to just enjoy life!

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The Texas Education Agency (TEA) would like to share their summer newsletter from the Parent and Family Engagement department. In it you'll find information about:

- Slowing down (take a break)

- Preventing academic regression

- Mental health for parents

- Summer meal programs

- Is your kid ready to be home alone?

- How to raise a reader

CLICK HERE to access their newsletter. Enjoy!

What's WSCC?

"The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model is CDC’s framework for addressing health in schools. The model focuses on the student and emphasizes the collaboration between schools, communities, public health, and health care sectors to align resources in support of the whole child." -U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Notice at the center of the WSCC model is a child. We believe every child should be safe, healthy, challenged, supported, and engaged. This is achieved through the supportive structures of family, school, and community surrounding the child.

Lake Travis ISD's School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) decided to create a quarterly newsletter to share information that will help families and the community support student health in the areas of nutrition, physical activity, social and emotional wellness, and health education. We will focus on these areas to support and encourage families to implement simple habits that are important for healthy development.