Healthier Holidays in 1 – 2 – 3!

1. Stay active.

Being active is your secret weapon this holiday season. It can help make up for eating more than usual and has many other health benefits.

Walking is a great way to be active. Try these tips to incorporate more walking into your activities:

  • Skip the search for a close-up parking spot. Park farther away and walk to your destination.
  • Make a few extra laps around the mall. Walk the length of the mall before going into any stores. The mall is also a good place to walk to avoid bad weather.
  • Start your work day by taking the stairs. Remember to stretch your legs and take short physical activity breaks throughout the day.

2. Eat healthy.

Healthy eating is all about balance. You can enjoy your favorite foods even if they are high in calories, saturated fat, or added sugars. The key is eating them only once in a while or in small portions and balancing them out with healthier foods.

  • If you are traveling this season, take healthy snacks along, like fruit and low-fat protein. That way, you can avoid the temptation of convenience foods high in fat, sugar, and salt.
  • If your favorite home recipes call for fried fish or chicken with breading, try healthier baked or grilled variations. Maybe try a recipe that uses dried beans in place of higher-fat meats.

Resolve to make new habits. This year, while at parties and other gatherings, fill your plate with fruits and veggies first, and pick small portions of just your favorites of the other items.

3. Plan activities that don’t involve eating.

In addition to enjoying a meal with friends and family around the table, take the party outside!

  • Try a seasonal activity with your family. Jump start your bucket list for the year.
  • Make a “walk and talk” date with a friend or family member. Skip the Frappuccino and explore a part of your town or city that may be new to you.
  • If the weather prevents you from heading outdoors, try mall-walking, or planning a family game night. Visit that museum, botanical garden, or exhibit you’ve been wanting to see.

Consider what new healthy traditions you can start this year. The possibilities are endless!

Fifth Annual Milk Run 5K

UF/IFAS Extension Orange County will host its fifth annual Milk Run 5K as part of the Healthy Living Expo on Saturday March 24, 2018. The race will begin at 9:00am at the UF/IFAS Extension Orange County.

The run will be held on the former T.G. Lee Dairy property and presents one of the few off-road running opportunities in the Orlando metropolitan area. Throughout the run, participants can enjoy a journey through a working cattle operation ranch with lots of wildlife in the city limits.

All proceeds will benefit Extension programs. Registration is $25 through March 16th. Groups of five or more will receive a discount. Late registrations after March 17th and the day of the run will be available. Prizes will be awarded by age division and refreshments will be provided by the sponsors to all participants.

This is an event that supports healthy living with something for everybody and is perfect for a family activity. For more information and registration, go to: or call 407-254-9222 for paper registration.

2,200 Participate in International Walk to School Day

Kids walked and rolled in record numbers on International Walk to School Day, Oct. 4, 2017. At Winter Park consortium schools, parents walked with kids (and dogs) on this annual day that celebrates the simple joy of walking to school. Kids created posters at Lakemont Elementary School, where a record 148 participants joined the colorful parade to school. “Don’t text and Drive”, “Keep Kids Safe”, “Slow Down” – were the key messages. And…”Walking is fun!”

We agree – walking is fun. And it’s healthy and helps children be ready to learn. The more you burn, the more you learn!

In all, 2,201 students from ten area schools participated, along with the mayor of Maitland, Dale McDonald and School Board Representative, Nancy Robbinson and several city council members, parents and advocates from Maitland, Winter Park and Eatonville.

Click here to read more from our friends at Healthy Central Florida, including a news story and more pictures.

School Bus Tips for Parents


Your child should arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.  Wait for the bus at least three giant steps (six feet) away from the curb. Remind your child that the bus stop is not a place to run or play.

Get on and off safely

When the school bus arrives, your child should wait until the bus comes to a complete stop, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before approaching the bus door. Your child should use the handrails to avoid falling.

Use caution around the bus

Your child should never walk behind the school bus. If your child must cross the street in front of the bus, tell your child to walk on a sidewalk or along the side of the street, to a place at least five giant steps (10 feet) in front of the bus before crossing. Your child should make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing, to make sure the driver can see your child. If your child ever drops something near the school bus, like a ball or book, the safest thing is for your child to tell the bus driver right away. Your child should not try to pick the item up because the driver might not be able to see him/her.

Billion Mile Race at Glenridge Middle

Physical Education at Glenridge Middle School will be joining selected schools across the country to participate in the Billion Mile Race.  Tufts University university created this program to help schools benefit from adding walking and running to the school day.  Tufts is leading the charge to unite the efforts of schools across the nation to walk and run one billion miles.

Students will track steps which will be converted to miles and logged into the Billion Mile Race school portal.  Keep your eyes on the Glenridge bulletin board for updates on their progress.


$25,000 in Mini-grants Available

Health Innovation Grant Workshop – Wednesday, May 11 from 7:30-10:30 a.m.

CLICK HERE to view video from last year’s Grants Workshop.

Join Healthy Central Florida and hear two rock stars of health – Jeff Speck, nationally-known walkability expert and author of The Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time, and Dr. Brian Wansink, world-renowned eating behavior expert for over 25 years.  Dr. Wansink is a professor at Cornell University, and formerly was appointed by the White House appointed to lead the US Dietary Guidelines (MyPlate). Both speakers will bring cutting edge strategies for creating healthier environments to our communities.  Don’t miss out!

Attend this free workshop and your organization could be eligible to receive one of the mini-grants totaling $25,000.

Register here – seating is limited.

Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Time: 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. (program starts promptly at 8:05 a.m.)
Where: Bush Auditorium at Rollins College ▪ 1000 Holt Ave. ▪ Winter Park, FL 32789

The workshop is free and open to anyone in Central Florida.  Grant applicant projects must primarily serve the residents of Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park and applicants must attend the workshop to be eligible to apply. All grant applications must target one of these Healthy Central Florida focus areas: Get active or Eat healthy. Individuals are welcome to attend but grants will be made only to recognized 501(c)(3) organizations for implementation. Collaborations are encouraged. A light breakfast will be provided. Sign up early to ensure your place – seating is limited.

Questions? Please email or call 407-644-2300 ext. 241.

Standing Boosts Learning

Adapted from The Conversation

Study after study has connected inactivity with negative health outcomes, including heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. But most of this attention has been focused on adults in an office environment, and the negative impact of sitting on physical health. Hence, the growing popularity of standing desks in offices.

Moving more is good for our bodies. Over the past few years many researchers have begun evaluating the use of standing-height desks (allowing students to sit on a stool or stand at will) instead of the more traditional seated desks in school classrooms. Results have been promising, but until now, researchers have typically focused on utilizing standing desks as a way to combat sedentary behavior.

While studies shows that standing desks can burn calories, anecdotal evidence from teachers suggests that students also focus more and behave better while using standing desks.

But is there anything to these anecdotal observations? The Texas A&M Ergonomics Center decided to investigate whether standing desks had neurocognitive benefits for students. It turns out that letting kids move in the classroom helps boost attention and focus.

Click here to read more about the benefits of standing desks in the classroom.

Join the 2015 Sole Challenge

sole challengeThe 2015 Sole Challenge is just days away, but you still have time to sign up to walk and help your child’s school win funds for healthy activities and programs.

Created by Healthy Central Florida (HCF), the event is a free and friendly competition to see which community organization in Winter Park, Maitland or Eatonville can generate the most participants for the walking event.

The event is on Saturday, October 24, at Quinn Strong Park, 345 South Maitland Ave., Maitland, 32751. Sign-in and activities begin at 7:30 a.m. and the official Sole Challenge walk will begin at 8:30 a.m.

For more information and to register, click here.

CASH PRIZES for the MOST participants – $1,000, $500 & $250 in EACH category
Faith-Based Organizations
Non-Profit Organizations

Individuals and businesses can win prizes too – Fitbit Flexes, a one-year membership to RDV Sportsplex and more!

Once again, this year’s Sole Challenge will feature Bo Outlaw, of the Orlando Magic, music, as well as free t-shirts and pedometers for the first 600 walkers. There also will be kid’s activities, face-painting, giant climbing wall, inflatables, blender bike, and a healthy breakfast for all.

It’s all totally free! So now is the time to round up PTA/PTO members, sports teams and any other school group you can think of to participate in the Mayors’ Sole Challenge. See you there!

Teachers Receive Training from The Walking Classroom

TWC trainingThe 2015-2016 school year brings a new way of learning to students at three local elementary schools.  The Walking Classroom (TWC), an innovative program giving young students the chance to listen and learn while taking a brisk walk, was piloted locally in a fourth and fifth grade class at Lake Sybelia last year with grant support from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF). Now, with the support of an expansion grant from WPHF, all fourth and fifth grade students (22 classrooms and approximately 440 students) at Lake Sybelia, Aloma, and Hungerford Elementary schools will have the opportunity to walk and learn.

TWC WalkKitBefore classes start for Orange County Public School students, teachers from Aloma, Lake Sybelia, and Hungerford elementary schools had the opportunity to participate in a TWC training, delivered by TWC’s Kalle Mitchell. Through this training, teachers learned how to effectively introduce and utilize TWC in their classroom curriculum.  Teachers now have the knowledge and tools necessary to engage students and volunteers in fun and meaningful walking and learning.  If you have a fourth or fifth grader at one of these schools, don’t be surprised if your student talks to you about being chosen to be a “caboose” or a “pacer,” these are some of the fun roles students will be filling while participating in TWC.

Also, be on the lookout for your child to bring home a TWC lending library this year.  The lending library will allow for you and your student to experience TWC at home. You can listen to a podcast with your child, experience what they experience within the classroom, then journal about your experience.  This is an excellent opportunity to “walk” in your child shoes!

Click here for more information on The Walking Classroom.

Teach Your Kids to Cross the Street Safely

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Pedestrian safety is paramount for our children.  The Orlando Metro area is the number one area for pedestrian fatalities.  Locally, organizations like Best Foot Forward are working to make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

But it is important for parents to make sure their children have the tools to be safe pedestrians. Have you taken the time to talk to your children about how to

safely cross a street or walk down a sidewalk? Safe Kids Worldwide has complied a helpful list of tips for keeping our kids safe while crossing the street.

  • Talk to your kids about how to be safe while walking. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Teach kids at an early age to put down their devices and then look left, right and left again when crossing the street.
  • Children under 10 should cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, it can be hard for kids to judge speed and distance of cars until age 10.
  • Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones and be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.