Healthy Living Club Challenge

RACE ACROSS IOWA

Registration is open!

Register your club, staff team, and/or extension council to get entered into our Healthy Living Club Challenge for the 2020 year. Information will be sent each month to the contact listed in registration.

2020 Challenge: January 1st – June 30th

Healthy Living is one of the four program priorities in Iowa 4-H Youth Development. We pledge our “health to better living” and in order to learn, practice, and advocate for healthy choices we are challenging clubs, learning communities, volunteers, staff, and families to practice healthy choices during their meetings, events and daily lives.

The annual Race Across Iowa challenge will feature similar challenges as in years past but with a new focus this year on social and emotional learning and mental wellness.

Mental Wellness is a state of well-being in which the individual:

  • Recognizes their abilities
  • Copes with the normal stresses of life
  • Works productively and fruitfully
  • Contributes to their community

Any club, council or staff team is invited to join our challenge of making healthy choices together, and learning new skills so we can practice these behavior changes long term at home and in our daily lives. As groups accomplish the different challenges each month they will earn “miles” towards their adventure through this challenge and across the Iowa map.

Regional Map with Challenge Route

Miles are earned by accomplishing different challenges. There are four main categories that are worth 50 miles a piece. These include:

Water Challenge AreaWater = Offering water as main beverage option.
Fruits & Vegetables = Having a fruit and/or vegetable as part of snacks provided.
runner Physical Activity = Organizing a group activity where participants are moving.
brain Mindful Moments = Integrating an intentional moment to learn a mindfulness technique.

Recordings:

There will also be opportunities to earn BONUS miles through our monthly BONUS Challenge. Each month will feature a different theme that explores a different social and emotional learning topic that helps us expand our Mental Wellness. Details and resources for each monthly challenge will be posted 1 month in advance for club planning purposes. Completion of each BONUS Challenge earns your group 100 miles.

January: Personal Mission Statements

This month is all about personal well-being and learning more about ourselves – our beliefs, morals, values and finding meaning in what we do for ourselves and what we offer to others. The bonus challenge will focus on personal reflection that helps one identify their special characteristics and areas of their life that make them feel special.

This lesson has been tailored for different age groups so please review the separate hand outs and identify which is best for your group of youth. If you have a group of youth of ages across the different groups, it is recommended to break down into small groups based on age and conduct similar lessons separately.

Clover Kids – discovering what is special to them and how they can integrate that each week.

Youth (grades 4-6) – discovering what is special to them and setting a weekly goal of how they can be thoughtful of that special quality in their life.

Youth (grades 7-12) – reflecting on what is special to them and formulating a statement they want to live by. This statement may help them prioritize their goals and thinking about their future decisions.

February: Heartfulness

Through our “Mindful Moments” each month, participants are learning techniques to help focus and pay attention to the current moment and be in tuned with themselves in different ways. They are learning techniques to help them approach stressful moments in a healthy way.

As we practice Mindfulness, it is important we think about one of the essential qualities of a mindful spirit – and that is Heartfulness. Heartfulness is sharing “loving-kindness”- friendliness, compassion, goodwill, and respect.

In Asian languages, the words “mind” and “heart” are the same. The qualities of being compassionate and kind to oneself and others is heartfulness. We can use this mindset as we address what is happening internally (thoughts on your mind, emotions you feel, stress you experience) and approach it with kindness. This month we will focus on strategies to spread compassion and kindness and practice “heartfulness” with ourselves and others.

“People forget what you said and what you did. But they never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Let’s all try to spread kindness and think about how we can make others feel for the better. Be mindful of how you treat yourself as well. Approach yourself with kindness and you will find stress more manageable.

Friendly February Calendar

Heartfulness Activity Ideas:

  1. Self-Compassion
    1. Heartful Notes: Take time to write a note to yourself acknowledging kindness to yourself. “YOU ARE _____; or BE _______. Also consider writing a note to a fellow club member, friend at school, family member, or someone you’ve lost touch with and would like to reach out to again. What is a nice quality you recognize in them you can share about in the note? heart
    2. Loving-Kindness Meditation: (featured from the 4-H Mindfulness Series):
      1.  As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed (optional), let’s practice some phrases for ourselves and others. I will read them one at a time, then you can repeat silently to yourself.
        May I/you be safe.                             May I/you be healthy and strong.
        May I/you be happy.                         May I/you be at peace and free from suffering.

        2. Now, take three mindful breaths and visualize someone feel close and connected to or feel thankful for – a family member, friend, or even a pet. If you need a reminder, you can open your eyes to see them on the board.

        3. Visualize someone you feel neutral about or that you may have a difficult relationship or interactions with. Direct the thoughts to that person. Take three mindful breaths.

        4. Finally, direct the thoughts toward everyone universally: May all beings everywhere be happy.

        5. Open your eyes.

        Ask a couple reflection questions such as: How what feelings were or are you experiencing right now? What surprised you? When might be a time in your life this would be useful to try? What did you enjoy about this? What was challenging?

        When you try a loving-kindness meditation on your own, you can say them silent or out loud.

        It may be easy to offer loving-kindness to someone with whom you have a good relationship and harder to send loving-kindness to someone who has caused you difficulty. Or, you might find it difficult to send loving-kindness to yourself. You can experiment. Start with someone you are close to or pets. You can also make up your own phrases and wishes.

        Everyone gets angry sometimes. Holding on to anger and resentment toward someone usually makes us more stressed out and doesn’t make the situation any better. By letting go of anger toward that person and try to wish them well helps us have more peace of mind.

  2. Friendliness
    1. Smiling: One of best ways to cultivate loving-kindness is by intentionally smiling. Try to take time to smile at anyone or anything. Sending friendliness can help you reduce own stress and brighten others’ day. Iowa State University professor and research, Dr. Doug Gentile, recently ran a study where participants smiled at and mentally wished people well that they passed by. No words were exchanged, just a friendly smile and a compassionate thought. The result of showing kindness and compassion to a stranger showed positive impacts to the person bestowing the act of kindness through lowering stress, anxiety and depression.
       
  3. Kindness
    1. Random Acts of Kindness: You hear about folks purchasing the next person in line’s meal at the drive through or holding a door for someone in need. What is something you can do this week to help someone? Can you try to do something each day to help someone you may not know.

March: Mindfulness

March is National Nutrition Month and the theme this year is “Eat Right, Bite by Bite”. This month of the club challenge is to focus deeper into Mindfulness and so the featured activity is tying these two together into the topic of Mindful Eating. Mindful eating is all about being present and aware while eating food – thinking about what it looks like, smells like, feels like and tastes like. This focus and naturally slows down our process of consuming food and being aware of how it makes us feel. Please share the Mindful March calendar with families so they can incorporate more mindful behaviors each day. march calendar

Clover Kids: a lesson from the Mindful Me curriculum: Is this apple red?

  • For this activity you will need apples and the book, No Ordinary Apple: A story about eating mindfully, by Marlowe, S.
  • To save on supplies, you could quarter the apples and provide each youth a segment on a plate.
  • Read the book and ask the following questions from this lesson.

Mindful Eating Activity: this lesson is based on the Mindful Schools lesson for mindful eating and uses raisins. There are two versions of same lessons for younger age group vs. older youth audiences depending on your club’s make up. Please feel free to adapt to best fit your group.

March Calendar PDF

April: Gratitude

Gratitude is a skill in mindfulness that helps us appreciate the positive things in our life and helps us find calmness in times of stress. Review the following activities and see how you can incorporate one at home to help you practice gratitude this month.april calendar

Gratitude Letter

  • If your youth completes this, we would love to hear some of their responses. We don’t need a copy of their letter but would love to see their responses to the follow up questions of how completing this activity made them feel and how it made the recipient of their letter feel.
  • Gratitude Jars – grab a container around the house and scrap paper. Each day write something you’re grateful for on a slip of paper and add to jar. Once the jar fills up, empty the jar and read through the notes, or if you’re having a difficult day read through them in to bring happiness to your day.
  • Start a Gratitude Journal
  • Conduct “check-in’s” with a family or friend each week

Gratitude Worksheet
Calendar resource from Action for Happiness. The theme for April is Active Coping.

May: Empowerment
June: Advocacy

It is recommended that each club elects a Wellness Officer to help lead these initiatives during each monthly meeting and plan for future activities. Wellness Officers will be given resources to help them in this role as well as occasional webinars to help them build their awareness and learn ideas and strategies for incorporating healthy living into club meetings. Include this officer’s contact information in the registration form.

Each month will also feature resources and information for families to practice these healthy choices in their daily lives and support each other through their goals.