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More than 60 schools participating in 8th year of HealthPartners PowerUp School Challenge

First graders at Houlton Elementary School in Hudson are pictured taking part in the 2018 School Challenge kick-off. Submitted photo

More than 60 elementary schools in Minnesota and western Wisconsin are participating in the 2019 season of HealthPartners PowerUp School Challenge. The program makes the healthy choice the easy choice for kids and families.

HealthPartners developed it based on research that shows that eating fruits and vegetables and getting physical activity is the most effective way to promote health and prevent obesity in kids. However, the most recent Minnesota Student Survey shows that most fifth graders are not achieving this.

The School Challenge is a three-week program for students in kindergarten through fourth grade. It includes fun, interactive classroom activities that promote fun, colorful and tasty fruits and veggies.

"This program helps build a school culture that makes it fun and easy for kids to choose healthy foods and physical activity. Students get to try five different veggies and vote on their favorites right in the classroom," said Marna Canterbury, the Director of Community Health at Lakeview Health Foundation.

Results: kids are trying more fruits and vegetables

More than 150,000 students have participated in the program since it began in 2012. A survey shows that a majority of families (71 percent) and school staff (82 percent) reported that kids are trying more fruits and veggies as a direct result of the School Challenge.

In addition to the School Challenge, HealthPartners created a tool for schools to implement practices and policies year round. The School Change Index helps schools measure changes on 36 practices and policies around food and beverages, physical activity, screen time and rewards and celebrations.

The School Challenge will take place in the following Hudson schools in 2019:

• Houlton Elementary, Feb. 25

• St. Patrick School, Feb. 11

• Hudson Prairie Elementary, March 25

• Trinity Academy, Feb. 8

• EP Rock Elementary, took place on Jan. 4

• Willow River Elementary, May 6

• Rivercrest Elementary, May 13

• North Hudson Elementary, Feb. 26.