Grapefruit, chic peas, bananas, grains, eggplant, kale, kiwi – not fruits and veggies you would associate with the diet of hungry young boys. However, if you stop by LaSalle on any given day for lunch, that’s what you’ll find!
Medical and food service staff put their heads together to develop a program that could be presented to staff charged with caring for the youth at LaSalle. The program emphasized nutrition facts and figures, strategies and habits to improve physical and emotional health and well being, and the connection between high ACE (adverse child experience) scores and high BMI’s (body mass indexes).
On June 1st, Nutritionist Meg Maney gave staff an overview of how eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods, salt and fat affects medical issues such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. A cross-section of staff from clinicians to direct care staff to recreation department to administration were present for this information-sharing session.
As role models and ‘agents’ in this effort to change behaviors, staff eagerly signed on to pursue healthier meal menus and behaviors.
“Add the problems stemming from a high BMI to what we have learned about the impact of high ACE scores on life-long health issues, and we have a mandate to do everything we can to help youth at LaSalle develop healthy strategies and habits that will improve their physical and emotional health and well being as well as bolster their resiliency, while helping their brain development,” said Nurse Manager Connie DiNovo.
A committee was formed to plan and implement a Health and Wellness Week at LaSalle in July. From the 11th to the 15th, each day was themed and designed to teach various aspects necessary for changing habits and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Movement Monday started off a week-long contest to recognize achievers of high steps. Both residential and day services combined their steps to compete for honors as the group with the most steps!
The goal of Tone It Up Tuesday was to offer so many alternative positive youth activities that youth wanted to turn off the electronic devices and opt to get involved in healthy physical non-sedentary activities.
On Walking Wednesday kids learned the benefits of walking and found ways to incorporate a brisk walk into their routines. The message to them was: Walking is within everyone’s ability and it takes no particular equipment or setting!” The more walking and physical exertion practiced made for a very welcome Thirsty Thursday when keeping well hydrated with fluids good for us and low in sugar were available.
At the end of the week, Fresh Ideas Friday introduced kids to new foods, fresh veggies and fruits, and other positive meal choices. Having the youth give their feedback helped to determine which options would return to the menu in future weeks.
Nutritionist Meg Maney, an independent practitioner, returned to LaSalle on July 15th to conduct a question and answer session with staff and students interested in finding out more information about how they could adjust lifestyles and eating habits. Maney is expected to return frequently to participate in further health and wellness activities.
LaSalle School is a leader in programs and services for youth and families in crisis offering a variety of programs designed to meet their needs including specialized residential placement, day service education, and alternative to detention services. The Counseling Center at LaSalle is an OMH and OASAS licensed outpatient behavioral health clinic located at LaSalle School, and currently implementing ACE treatment practices with youth and families. LaSalle is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), and affiliated with the Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA), and the national Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. LaSalle is a member of The New York State Coalition of 853 Schools.