Lake Travis ISD Wellness Watch



PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Children and Teens

NUTRITION: The Ecological Impact of Food

SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Staying Out of the Whirlwind

HEALTHY LIVING: "It's Just Allergies!" Or Is It?


- Suicide and Self Harm 101 - LTISD Mental Health Parenting Video Series

- Fentanyl Awareness and Prevention Webinar Series - Info and Registration Links

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Healthy New Year's Resolutions for Children and Teens

By: Coach Z (Danielle Zibilski)
Physical Education and Health Teacher, Serene Hills Elementary School

Happy New Year! Wow, 2023, that just sounds wrong. Where does the time go? I hope that your family enjoyed all that extra time together this holiday season. The start of a new year is a great time to help your children focus on forming good habits. Making New Year's resolutions can be a fun way to do this!

As a PE coach and mom of two kids, I know how important it is to set healthy goals involving your kids – and to be realistic about those goals. Setting goals is an important skill to learn at any age.

I encourage you to sit down with your kids and, together, pick maybe one or two goals they want to set as their New Year's resolutions. Brainstorm together things that have room for growth and change. Come up with an incentive or reward that you can attach to a timeline.

1. Make healthy resolutions fun

If your family decides to tackle healthier eating habits, get everyone involved and make it fun. Get all family members involved from grocery shopping, lunch food preparations, to cooking dinner together.

If your family decides to eat more veggies, find new vegetable recipes to try. Give children the opportunity to choose new veggies to try at the store each week and let your kids search for a new recipe to go with it. Rate them from 1-10 and have a prize for the favorite dish each month. You can also start making more smoothies. It is by far the easiest way I have found to sneak in greens.

If your resolution is to be more active, look for new ways to incorporate physical activity. Explore a new park every week to keep things interesting. Take up a new sport together. Pickleball is really taking off in our area and it is great for all ages. Support your children by keeping your refrigerator stocked with healthy choices. Wash and cut produce as soon as you get home from the grocery store for easy access.

2. Organize your pantry for success

Keep healthy food in sight and within reach. If your children are young use the 1st shelf to store dried fruit, fruit and veggie pouches, applesauce, veggie chips, etc. Keeping junk food in the pantry is a surefire way to break your New Year's resolution to eat healthier, especially if it is in plain sight and arms reach.

If you and your family want to have ice cream, it's best to make a special trip rather than keep it in the freezer for constant temptation. Buy frozen fruits and frozen yogurt for sweet tooth snacking.

Small steps like these can get your family involved and set you up for success in the new year. Lastly, parents play a pivotal role in their children's health so modeling healthy habits is key to healthy changes for children in the new year.


Here are some healthy and positive goal-setting resolution ideas you can suggest to your children, depending on their age: (From

New Year's resolution ideas for kids (5 to 12 years old)

  • I will try new foods when I can, especially all different colors of vegetables.

  • I will drink water every day and healthy beverages like milk with meals. I will keep soda and fruit drinks only for special times.

  • I will try to find a physical activity (like playing tag, jumping rope, dancing, hiking, pickle ball, or riding my bike) or a sport I like and do it at least three times a week!

  • I will take care of my skin by putting on sunscreen and wearing a hat and sunglasses when possible.

New Year's resolution ideas for teens (13 years old and older)

  • I will eat two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables every day.

  • I will pack a healthy lunch that has all 5 food groups.

  • I will drink sodas only at special times, or only on the weekend, or only when dining out.

  • I will plan and cook a healthy meal once a week.

  • I will make a smoothie that includes a vegetable 2 times a week.

  • I will do my best to take care of my body through fun physical activity and eating the right types and amounts of foods.

  • I will try to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep that my body needs each night.

  • I will resist peer pressure to try drugs, alcohol or smoking or vaping.

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The Ecological Impact of Food

By: Marissa Albers, MPH, RD, LD

LTISD Dietitian & FANS Marketing Coordinator

Food is more than bodily fuel. We often think about how food impacts our culture, memory, and emotions, but now, people are increasingly considering the environmental impact of food. The most notable way that food impacts our environment is through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which not only trap heat in the atmosphere, but also contribute to respiratory health issues from smog and air pollution. According to the City of Austin Office of Sustainability State of the Food System Report (2022), food is responsible for 21% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions created by Austinites, and 26% of GHG emissions worldwide.

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(Graphic adapted from: Austin Climate Equity Plan)

When considering the impact of our food choices, think about what is happening throughout the different stages of the food life cycle:

  • Fossil fuels including oil, coal, and natural gas are used to extract, process, and manufacture food items. Fossil fuels are considered nonrenewable resources because they are available in a limited amount, take millions of years to form, and can be exhausted by human activities before they can be replenished.

  • Many agricultural methods used to produce food are associated with negative environmental impacts. These include excess fertilizer usage, poorly managed feeding operations, overgrazing, plowing, improper application of pesticides and more.

  • Food must be transported and distributed internationally and domestically before it reaches our grocery stores, restaurants, and home kitchens. Planes, ships, trucks, and trains produce carbon emissions during transit.

  • Food loss can occur for a variety of reasons. During the processing, distribution, and storage phases food may be lost from mold or pests, improper storage temperatures, expiration, contamination, and more. Additionally, in foodservice operations and home kitchens, food can be wasted if it is not consumed before it goes bad. When this happens, unused food ends up in the landfill where it decomposes and produces methane (a potent GHG) as a byproduct.

If we take steps to mitigate the environmental effects of food, together, we can create a more resilient and sustainable food system. To have the greatest impact, everyone will have to play their part. Here are some things you can do at home, and some ways we are taking initiative at school:


  • Aim for a “plant-forward plate.” Animal food production requires more energy to produce than the same amount of protein from protein-rich plant foods such as beans, peas, legumes, and soy. By increasing our intake of legumes, fruits, and vegetables and reducing intake of meat, fat, and sugar, we can reduce emissions and risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and more.

  • Buy local. Buying food produced closer to home reduces the amount of miles it has to travel to your plate, thereby reducing GHG emissions. Shop at your local farmers market or search for the Go Texan label on products at the grocery store (indicating products made in Texas).

  • Take inventory. Check your fridge, freezer, and pantry for menu inspiration before making your weekly grocery list to use food before it goes bad. When it is time to clean out your fridge, look for patterns of food waste so you can intervene. Ask yourself: “What am I wasting and why?”

  • Understand date labels. An “expiration date” indicates the last date a food is safe to consume. A “best by” date indicates the last date a food is at its top quality. Eating food past the “best by” date is not unsafe, it just may lose its freshness, taste, or nutrients.

  • Date your leftovers. When storing leftovers, mark it with the date so you know when it is time to throw out. Utilizing a food storage chart or an app such as The FoodKeeper can help you store food properly to maximize freshness and quality of foods while reducing waste.

  • Utilize the freezer. Freezer foods stay safe indefinitely, although quality may diminish over time.


As an institutional food purchaser, Lake Travis ISD Food and Nutrition Services (FANS) is working to “transform public dollars into public good” by participating in the Good Food Purchasing Program, which encourages institutions to align their food purchases with 5 value categories: Local Economies, Environmental Sustainability, Valued Workforce, Animal Welfare, and Nutrition. Through this program, all foods purchased by LTISD FANS are analyzed and score points in each value category so goals can be set and progress can be made year-to-year. Recently, FANS received their baseline results from SY 2020-2021. Here are a few key findings from LTISD’s baseline results:

  • 14.8% of LTISD food purchases were from local farmers or producers.

  • LTISD spent $29,000 on foods from producers that employ sustainable production methods.

  • 0% of LTISD seafood purchases were rated “avoid” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide.

Checkout the LTISD Food and Nutrition website to learn more about initiatives in the school cafeterias!


Sabaté J, Soret S. Sustainability of plant-based diets: back to the future. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:476S-482S.

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by: Jennifer Lyon, M.Ed.

Director of Health and SEL, Lake Travis ISD

During the winter break many of us found peace in just being present in the moment with ourselves and our families. It’s sometimes easier to do that when we are not distracted by work, school, sports, or other extracurricular activities. We rested, deeply. Then we returned to the rush of life. The hectic pace that we as Americans, have adopted as our hustle and bustle lifestyle. But what if we stepped out of the whirlwind more often and created more peace for ourselves and our children? What if we changed our lifestyles to create more space for rest and less for anxiety? Even if only for a short time each day?

We are currently in a mental health crisis in our country and the leading problem is anxiety. We are more anxious than we have ever been. The APA states that “The average child today experiences the same level of anxiety as a hospitalized psychiatric patient did in the 1950s”. We have to make time to calm our nervous systems and those of our children. We have to step out of the whirlwind, or not create one in the first place, and reclaim our mental health and wellbeing.

While the winter break was nice, it is also good for us to return to routines. Humans are wired for routines and they are especially important for children. Perhaps as we are restarting our routines, we can change them up a bit to include earlier bedtimes, more downtime, less screen time. Perhaps we can find time for mindfulness moments using tools such as Headspace, Calm, Smiling Mind, Mindful Powers, or Stop, Breathe & Think.

Create small habits such as taking a deep breath as you start in your car, or thinking about what you're grateful for while brushing your teeth each day. Try incorporating “I love you rituals” such as starting and ending the day with hugs or a special song. Finding your child’s love language can also help you create these special moments.

Just thinking about finding ways to create peace and calm in your family life may help us all be more regulated. I hope that in this new year your family has meaningful moments of connection and peace and that as a community we can stay out of the whirlwind more often than not!

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"It's just allergies!" Or is it?

By: Becca Harkleroad, RN, NCSN

Lead Nurse, Lake Travis ISD

Winter is here in the TX Hill Country, which means mountain cedar reigns supreme on the allergy charts. Many adults and children suffer from seasonal allergies nicknamed "cedar fever," which is a nuisance but not contagious. Late in 2022, hospitals across the nation were overwhelmed by what they called the "Tripledemic" - is it RSV? Influenza? COVID-19? Just a cold? Cedar Fever? These added illnesses make it difficult for parents to decide if their child needs to stay home from school to prevent the spread of illness or if it’s just allergies.

Overlapping symptoms add to confusion on whether or not a student needs to stay home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 and seasonal allergies have multiple overlapping symptoms, some of which are also common for the influenza virus and other respiratory illnesses, or colds. These diagrams show the overlap of COVID-19 and allergies as well as COVID-19 and influenza.

Prevention is Key

If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, they may need to take allergy medicine during peak season. Most people do well with an over-the-counter medication, but you should contact your healthcare provider if you have questions or need recommendations. Also, try to avoid prolonged outdoor exposure during times of peak allergy seasons. After spending time outdoors, a quick shower and change of clothes will help eliminate the allergens from the allergy sufferer.

Ways to help prevent yourself and your family from getting sick include: frequent handwashing; proper respiratory etiquette (cover nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, and immediately washing hands afterward); getting lots of quality sleep; fueling your body with nutritious meals; and fortifying your immune system according to your healthcare provider’s input. There are vaccines available to protect against severe infection from the flu and COVID-19 for people 6 months or older.

When in doubt, rule it out!

If your child is not feeling well, even if you suspect it’s just allergies, it’s a good idea to keep them home from school to monitor their health. If the child’s minor symptoms are resolved by allergy medication, that child may be welcome to return to school the following day. If your child comes to school and is exhibiting symptoms that may be related to COVID-19, the school nurse is required to send them home and exclude them from school according to Department of State Health Services (DSHS) guidelines. DSHS requires people to be excluded from school for at least 5 days with symptoms improved and fever-free, or to be cleared by a healthcare provider or a negative molecular test before returning to school.

In-school learning is essential…

Public health and education experts agree on this fact: kids thrive in an in-person school environment vs online offerings. They also agree that students’ health and safety should remain a priority when it comes to in-person learning. Keeping your child home for one or two days while ruling out flu and/or COVID-19 actually supports in-person learning for all by preventing the spread of these illnesses at school, which would take more students out of the classroom.

Why should we see a healthcare provider?

If your child is ill, it’s important that they be seen by their healthcare provider. Frequently, especially when a child is sent home from school for COVID protocols, people seek a quick answer with a molecular COVID-19 test. Unfortunately, sometimes people look at their child’s symptoms with “COVID blinders” on, which means they can miss an important diagnosis that is not COVID-19. Consult with your healthcare provider when you determine that maybe it’s not just allergies after all. Many of treatable illnesses have similar symptoms and early access to treatment means they'll be feeling better fast.

** This message is a repeat from Wellness Watch Fall 2021

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Lake Travis ISD's team of Licensed Social Workers continue this year's parenting video series with its latest episode: Suicide and Self-Harm 101. This video series is available on the LTISD website's Health and Social & Emotional Learning page. Click below to watch the 33-minute video.
Suicide and Self Harm


The U.S. Department of Education is hosting a webinar series to address hot topics that are on the top of educators’ minds. After sharing federal updates, the series features lessons learned and best practices from faculty, staff, schools, districts, institutions of higher education, and other places of educational instruction. It also shares a variety of useful resources.

On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools, the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) invites you to join a two-part miniseries titled, The Facts About Fentanyl and Approaches to Prevention.



January 17, 2023 - 2:00-3:30 pm
CLICK HERE to register
Webinar will be available HERE the following day


Feb. 8, 2023 - 2:00-3:30 pm
CLICK HERE to register
Webinar will be available HERE the following day

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"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.

This spring, 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.