Lake Travis ISD Wellness Watch
In this edition
SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Not One More Victim: Partners Against Child Trafficking
HEALTHY LIVING: Moving Down the Road of Life: Healthy Choices for Your Body
NUTRITION: A Taste of How COVID-19 Has Changed the Way We Eat
NUTRITION: Free Overnight Summer Camp
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Spring Back Into Moving
WHY IS EVERYBODY SO ANGRY RIGHT NOW?
by: Jennifer Lyon, M.Ed.
Director of Health and SEL, Lake Travis ISD
Have you noticed lately that people, possibly even yourself, are quicker to anger? Are you a little more triggered than usual by the slow car in the drop-off line at school in the morning? Do you feel your blood pressure rise when you hear politically divisive statements? Are you feeling pain at the pump and want someone to blame? Does just the mention of a new COVID-19 variant send you into a tailspin?
The anxiety, uncertainty and lack of control we have felt for the past several years is taking a toll on our ability to control our anger these days. From limited service at restaurants due to staff shortages, to angry passengers on planes, and all of the economic fallout from what is being called The Great Resignation, people are angry right now.
For some, anger can give us energy, certainty, and a call to action. On the flip side, unmanaged anger can erupt into aggressive behaviors towards others and cause big problems. For example, think of the recent incident between Chris Rock and Will Smith at the Oscars. For some reason, people feel more comfortable expressing anger than the underlying feelings that drive it. But anger is usually just the front-facing emotion, there is almost always something else triggering you such as hurt, anxiety, shame, sadness, fear, frustration, guilt, disappointment, worry, embarrassment, or jealousy. Until you figure out what’s fueling your anger you will continue to operate in a heightened state that can affect your physical health, your relationships, your mental and emotional health, and just about every other aspect of your life.
So how do we manage our anger? In elementary schools we manage our “big feelings” by using self-regulation skills - stop, name your feelings, calm down. We learn that to calm down we must focus on our breathing and slow it down to help us regulate our bodies and regain control of the thinking part of our brains. Guess what? This works for big kids and grown ups too! Our children are watching how we handle things and they imitate what we do. When we can calm our nervous system, distract ourselves in a healthy way (such as going outside for a walk), talk to a friend or family member, and manage our “big emotions”, we can teach our children to do the same.
NOT ONE MORE VICTIM
Partners Against Child Trafficking is a leading authority and advocacy organization that trains students on a peer-to-peer basis to detect, defend, and disrupt against the demand in child sex trafficking.
This is a major issue in our local communities and can affect anyone around, no matter what country you live in or social status you hold. Millions of people are being trafficked RIGHT. NOW. And even those you have escaped it are still haunted for the rest of their lives. Here is a story of one such survivor: https://youtu.be/nh1emIVHy8g
The Solution to Ending Trafficking. . .
In order to combat this issue and stop trafficking before it can even happen, PACT decided to focus solely on prevention measures through education. In collaboration with students, PACT has created an online and interactive trafficking prevention training program for their student branch: SACT, Students Against Child Trafficking. This training program is taught BY students FOR students in an engaging and empowering method that creates a safe community in which to learn about the dangers of child sex trafficking and how to better defend against it.
Learning about topics such as warning signs, risk factors, and online grooming provides key information that helps make students more alert and aware of their surroundings. Other topics like healthy relationships, personal boundaries, and self-esteem give students the tools to have a more uplifted and stable mentality which makes them less vulnerable to traffickers.
PACT is recognized as the educational platform for Rotary Club to End Human Trafficking (RCEHT) and as a Continuing Education provider by Texas Health and Human Services based on their research and evidence-based content and programs. By working together with students, we are spreading life-saving knowledge that should never be hidden or brushed away because of taboo. By doing so would only prioritize reputation over students’ safety.
Sponsoring Lake Travis
The exciting news is that PACT is bringing their Training Program to Lake Travis High School! PACT has over $3,000 in local donations already ear marked for sponsoring the training of Lake Travis High School students!
Empowerment Can Start With YOU.
Lake Travis HS students can access the course NOW with the High School Training Program (sacttraining.city) and have been sponsored to have FREE access! Just use the coupon code: LTHS2022 when you enroll!
We are excited to be reaching students across the country and now even across the world in Thailand! Students all over the planet are being trained in PACT’s trafficking prevention, and so can you! Let’s empower students and have NOT ONE MORE VICTIM of child sex trafficking.
MOVING DOWN THE ROAD OF LIFE
By: Becca Harkleroad, RN, NCSN
Lead Nurse, Lake Travis ISD Student Health Services
Everybody is on a journey through life, with its joys, challenges, trials, and triumphs. It’s what makes us who we are. Also, every *body* is on a journey through life as well. Today let’s look at ways to maintain the body as you would a car while it carries you down the road of life.
FOOD as FUEL
What makes a car run? FUEL! And it’s important to put the right kind of fuel in your car for it to perform at its optimal level.
Food is the same thing for your body. Likewise, the kind of fuel you put in your body determines whether it performs at its optimal level.
The first way to make sure you fuel your body properly is to be mindful about what you eat. It’s easy to stress eat, and most people’s ‘comfort foods’ aren’t always ideal for sustaining health. The importance of complete nutrition and a balanced diet can’t be overstated. Eating nutritious food can help your body avoid chronic illnesses later in life, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
But you know what else is important about nutrition? Being kind to yourself about what you eat sometimes. Having a bad day and reach for a bit of junk food as comfort? Give yourself a break! Food itself is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (unless we’re talking about expiration dates!) - drop the guilt trip if you do some emotional eating from time to time. The point of mindful eating is to make choices based on a desire to be healthy, not on shaming yourself for choices outside a nutritious meal plan.
WHAT ABOUT WATER?
It’s what you’re made of! Hydration is an essential part of physical health. It helps your body regulate its temperature (that’s why we encourage more water intake during hot summer months); it helps keep your body moving by lubricating joints and protecting your spinal cord; it improves brain function - your brain is like a sponge, it’s not very useful when it’s all dried up.
Just like food, the type of fluids you put in your body will help it maintain optimal function. Plain water is great, as well as drinks that provide important nutrients, such as all types of milk (dairy or alternatives). It is important to moderate your intake of sugary drinks, too much caffeine, or alcoholic beverages.
What happens when a car sits for a long time? It eventually falls apart.
Your body is at risk of doing the same thing! It’s important to stay active. When you get your heart pumping, it sends blood and oxygen to your brain, improving cognitive function as well as mood. A sedentary lifestyle contributes to the same diseases listed above.
Not every body is meant to run a marathon, climb a mountain, or be an Ironman. When we were kids, we moved our bodies while we were playing, we didn’t necessarily think about exercise. There are plenty of great ways for adults to move our bodies. Take the stairs; take the dog (or the kids) for a walk; plan a picnic date that ends with a walk through the park; grab a frisbee and teach your kids how to throw it; turn that long phone call or meeting into a ‘walk-and-talk’ instead; walk the track while your kid is at soccer practice. Or maybe even have a solo dance party in your living room. (Although, if you have teenagers, I recommend doing this one when they aren’t home - cuts down on the eye rolling!)
PARK IT! (The importance of being still)
What happens if you drive a car for hours without ever stopping? It runs out of fuel, might burn up the working parts, and falls apart.
That’s why SLEEP is so important for physical health. I covered this in the last newsletter, but it bears repeating. Your body needs sleep to restore and replenish itself, maintain brain function, allow you to better control your emotions, and boost your immune system to help prevent illness.
There are several ways to improve your ability to fall asleep: try to keep a scheduled bedtime and a routine; avoid eating, exercising, or consuming alcohol before bedtime; eliminate screen time (phone, TV, computer, device) before bedtime.
It is important to be gentle with yourself, just like you would your vehicle. This can take many forms. One way to care for your body is to make and keep annual physical well-check appointments. We do it for our kids, and it is important to do it for our own selves as well.
Ideas for caring for your body requires all the things mentioned above, plus having a hygiene routine. And I’m not just talking about physical hygiene. Your mental hygiene is important as well! I’m talking about self-care. Often, you’ll need to do a little planning for this. Because let’s be honest, when it comes to self-care, if you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. Some ideas for mental hygiene include: take a break from social media, make time to visit an old friend, dress up for no reason, make yourself laugh (remember that dance party I mentioned?), plan a vacation/staycation that you can look forward to, talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend… being kind to yourself will help you be kind to others as well!
A TASTE OF HOW COVID-19 HAS CHANGED THE WAY WE EAT
Written By: Kristin Fogt, Dietetic Intern, University of Texas at Austin
Reviewed by: Marissa Albers, MPH, RD, LTISD Dietitian & Marketing Coordinator
The COVID-19 pandemic spurred both personal and systemic changes to the way we eat. Many, if not all, of the social determinants of health were affected by the pandemic, leading to stress and financial strain for many families. Pandemic-related changes in our access to education, quality of healthcare, the built environment, community, and economy have all had a direct impact on how we obtain and enjoy food.
Most commonly, we have seen this affect eating behaviors in the following ways:
Increased Food Intake
In the last edition of “LTISD Wellness Watch,” we discussed how stress can affect our eating behaviors due to increased cortisol levels and elevated hunger hormones. COVID-19 has sharply elevated our stress levels and shifted many jobs from offices to homes. Due to increased stress levels and proximity to our pantries, some people have experienced increased snacking and decreased physical activity.
Limited Access to Food
On the other hand, some have experienced food insecurity. As defined by the USDA, food insecurity is the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways. During the pandemic, we saw an increase in food insecurity (from 71.5% to 93.5%) due to changes in inflation, supply chain shortages, and job losses. With food insecurity, we often see a reliance on convenience foods that are high in calories and low in vitamins and minerals. As a result, food insecurity is linked to poor health outcomes such as anemia, tooth decay, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and poor sleep quality.
Healthy Habits in Tough Times
It seems we have been stuck in “survival-mode” during the COVID-19 pandemic – focusing more on short-term challenges and less on long-term health. However, childhood is a key time to learn and solidify healthy habits that carry over into adulthood. Here are some ways you can instill healthy habits during these tough times:
Focus on eating mindfully, especially during times of stress. The intuitive eating hunger/fullness scale is a great tool to help you and your child tune-in to your bodies’ needs.
Round out your meals. Include a variety of MyPlate food groups at each meal. Each food group plays a critical role in feeling full, satisfied, and energized. Aim to include at least 3 food groups at each meal for balance.
Upgrade your snacks. For a quick bite that will keep you energized between meals, combine at least two MyPlate food groups at each snack. For example:
Yogurt (dairy) + berries (fruit)
Apple slices (fruit) + nut butter (protein)
Whole Grain crackers (grains) + turkey (protein) + avocado (vegetable)
Local Resources for Food Insecurity
If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity, here are some helpful local resources:
Free/Reduced-Price School Meals in the LT Cafes.
Lake Travis High School CavLounge.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Talk to your school guidance counselor for more support.
FREE OVERNIGHT SUMMER CAMP FOR QUALIFYING STUDENTS! cAMPER AND COUNSELOR POSITIONS AVAILABLE!
Austin Sunshine Camps is a 100% free and nationally accredited overnight summer camp for students ages 8-15, who either qualify for free/reduced lunch or are part of the foster-care system. Paid employee positions are also available for students ages 16+.
Campers who qualify get to participate in a 10-day, 9-night traditional summer camp completely for free, which includes activities like archery, hiking, arts & crafts, s'mores, a high ropes course, canoeing, and many other great activities.
For more information about how to apply please visit:
For questions, please reach out to:
SPRING BACK INTO MOVING
By: Coach Z (Danielle Zibilski)
Physical Education and Health Teacher, Serene Hills Elementary School
It is no surprise that our exercise regimes were affected by the lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions. Adults and children were forced to change their daily routines and the way they exercise. Research in Canada, America, China, and Italy shows a causal link between COVID-19 restrictions and decreased activity levels in children. Lockdowns during the pandemic aimed to limit the spread of COVID-19 and related deaths. However, these lockdowns also affected how active people were. With school shutdowns and sport cancellations children became significantly more sedentary and we continue to see a rise in childhood obesity as well.
There is a risk that the short term changes in children’s physical activity in reaction to COVID-19 may end up extending beyond the duration of the pandemic. It is very easy for habits to become established, and for a more sedentary and less physically active lifestyle to become normal and ingrained in young people.
A study surveyed 211 parents of US children aged five to 13. It found that children spent about 90 minutes a day sitting down for school-related activities, and a further eight hours daily sitting down for leisure purposes during the pandemic. Alarming? Yes! However, there are ways children can be encouraged to be more active. These include getting the whole family involved in physical activity and building exercise into a routine.
Family involvement plays an important role in children’s activity levels. Encouragement from parents, and parents taking part in physical activities with their children, is associated with higher indoor and outdoor child physical activity and play. Research has also shown that having a pet dog can encourage children to be active as well.
I encourage parents to sign their kids up for sports and recreational activities. Plan now for summer and how they will stay active and engaged with their peers. Be proactive and get your kids to spring back into movement!
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.