Kaitlyn Tollefson is a senior at Berthoud High School in Colorado who recently held a healthy living week at her school complete with line dancing, a tasting booth and bingo! We caught up with Kaitlyn to learn more about her work, how she organized the week and tips for other programs.
Read on to learn more!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I consider myself to be an activist, mental health advocate, and a lifestyle medicine teen. Helping equip young adults with information and access to be able to live a healthy lifestyle is one of my biggest passions in life. My highschool is semi-rural and many healthy lifestyle behaviors are not often discussed in ways that encourage teens to adopt healthy lifestyle practices for the rest of their lives. From struggling with an extremely high rate of suicide to the oftentimes unhealthy public school lunches, having a week that encourages healthy lifestyle in fun and applicable ways was amazing to see.
How did you organize this Healthy Living week at Berthoud High School?
We organized the week by making a spirit week that was focused on embracing a healthy lifestyle! Each day of the week was themed with a different measure of healthy living. On our Social Monday, we played a get-to-know-a new-person bingo! As people ran around the cafeteria, they interacted with many people that they have never talked to before then. Next we had Restful Tuesday where we began a sleep competition and recorded a video on the importance of sleep. On Wednesday we had flash-line-dancing to encourage people to move in fun and enjoyable ways. Thursdays we emphasized the importance of calm by having different calming activities in the lunch room for people to de-stress. Lastly, on Friday, we provided several healthy foods for people to nourish their bodies during passing periods! (Check out the full program at the end of this blog)
What was one aha moment for you during this week?
An aha moment we had during planning the week was when we were figuring out what to do for our move day. It was a last minute change since we figured out we couldn't use the gym for a nostalgic recess during lunch. We made a line dancing playlist with songs from Cotton Eyed Joe to the Cupid Shuffle. Our club started a flash dance in the lunchroom and the turnout was great! We were all sweating by the end but had a lot of fun dancing! There were even several special ed students that joined in and had an awesome time.
What advice would you give to other students?
Some advice I would give to other students wanting to host a Healthy Living week would be to give yourself time, keep your plans flexible, and make committees! This week took our club a while to plan out, but our school absolutely reaped the benefits. It was so much fun, it just took a little longer than expected! You will definitely want to keep your plans flexible and stay resilient! Our plans changed dozens of times, but just because plans change doesn't mean that its for the worse! Some of the plan b's or changes we made were so much better than the original one would have been! Lastly, committees are definitely the way to go! By having people focus on the day of the week they are most passionate about, we had some amazing days going and awesome brainstorming sessions!
Healthy Living Week Snapshot
On Monday, our school put on a social bingo during lunch! The bingo sheet had short descriptions of different people (find someone who has been out of the country recently! find someone who's favorite class is English! etc.) that they had to talk to to find and make a bingo. There were so many great conversations as people competed to have their name entered in a drawing for prom tickets or a coffee gift card!
On Tuesday, we had a rest themed day during our weekly all-school study hall. Myself and members of our organization recorded a short video on the importance of sleep to display during this period. We introduced them to brown noise, a calming version of white noise that has been shown to relax the brain while they colored with provided coloring sheets or played word searches. These acted as several ways to give your brain a rest from schoolwork. We also provided a sleep tracker where, if they recorded over eight hours of sleep every night for a week, they would receive a glow in the dark star and be entered in for a chance to win prom tickets or a coffee gift card.
On Wednesday, we focused on movement where we encouraged people to line dance with us in our lunch room. These songs ranged from the Macarena, to Cotton Eyed Joe, to the Cha-Cha Slide and quite a few people joined in!
On Thursday, we had a calming booth in our lunchroom where we provided soft fabric, stress balls with motivational sayings on them, word crosses, and coloring sheets. This booth was very popular throughout the day and many said that this helped greatly.
On Friday, we had a really fun finale to the week as we focused on nutrition! During this day, we had Two different tasting booths, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We provided fruit cups and kind (granola) bars in the morning and hummus, carrots, mini pita pieces, and various apple sauces in the afternoon. The entire school loved these stations and it wasn't long before we ran out of many of these!