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December 2012

In This Issue
Healthy Dining Program
Pumpkin Lesson
Veggie Buddies
What's in Compost?
YRBS Survey

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Healthy, Happy Holidays to All 
The end of the year is often a time to reflect on the past 12 months and plan for the coming year. At a recent staff meeting, we took a few moments to share with each other what we have received as "gifts" over the past year: the connections, experiences and learnings that bring meaning and joy to our work. During this season of giving, we give thanks for these gifts--both given and received. A healthy, happy holiday to all.
Healthy Waltham Launches Healthy Dining Program
What if you could eat at your favorite restaurants and cut down on calories at the same time? Providing customers with more healthy options is the idea behind the Healthy Dining Program, a statewide initiative of Mass in Motion. The Chateau Restaurant recently signed on as Waltham's first healthy dining restaurant with the creation of their new low-calorie menu options. Allowing substitutions of vegetables instead of fries, dressing on the side, or a broiled entree instead of fried are just a few ways that restaurants can help their customers eat healthier. Healthy Dining restaurants receive a door decal and may be listed in Healthy Dining Program directories. Any restaurant may apply to the Healthy Dining Program. Please download the application here. Read about the Healthy Dining Program and the Chateau's new menu options in the Waltham News Tribune by clicking here.
The Pumpkin Lesson
How many seeds are in a pumpkin? (**answer below) Pumpkins, those cheery orange gourds plentiful in the fall, provide many opportunities for learning. Healthy Waltham recently enthralled first grade classes at the Northeast Elementary School with the Pumpkin Lesson. Louise Forrest, Healthy Waltham Garden Facilitator, and Jaclyn Kellner, Healthy Waltham intern from Brandeis University, led the eager students in removing the contents of a pumpkin and counting out the seeds. They also read a book to the students called "Pumpkin Jack" which follows the pumpkin from its time as a jack-o-lantern to decaying outside to its seeds starting to germinate in the spring to produce green globes, etc. (**The number of seeds in the pumpkins we opened varied widely from about 200 to 1,200 for the largest pumpkin)
Veggie Buddies Visit Northeast Elementary
The Veggie Buddies are an energetic group of Brandeis students who talk to kids about eating their veggies. Begun by a Healthy Waltham intern last year, the Veggie Buddies play trivia games, role-model healthy eating, and help motivate the kids to try the vegetables served in the elementary school cafeterias. Our goal is to eventually have the Veggie Buddies make one appearance at each Waltham elementary school annually. The Veggie Buddies help kids learn the importance of eating healthy AND make it fun.
What's in Your Compost?
Compost is organic matter that has been decomposed and is often used to add nutrients to soil in gardening. Parents and kids from Whittemore Elementary School enjoyed learning about compost from Healthy Waltham at their Science Night on December 6. Healthy Waltham's garden facilitator Louise Forrest and Whittemore science teacher Jane Borjas provided compost samples collected from different locations and backyards for the kids to examine. The children looked for the decomposers: worms, rolly pollies, pill bugs, millipedes, centipedes, slugs, earth worms, etc., using their eyes alone. Then, samples of "finished" compost could be examined at another station under the microscope. Two different methods of looking were taught, as well as the different stages of the decomposing process. The Waltham Recycling Department provided information on backyard composting bins that are available for purchase through the city at a discount. Whittemore Elementary is the site of Healthy Waltham's newest school learning garden, which was created in spring 2012. 
Kids plant spring bulbs and garlic at the Whittemore school garden
What Does the YRBS Data Mean for our Youth?
Every other year, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is administered to Waltham middle and high school students, and the results are posted on the school website. In a recent Tribune column, Beth Toolan, Executive Director of the Waltham Partnership for Youth, shared some of the top level findings. Bullying, including cyber-bullying, and drug & alcohol use by teens emerged as areas of concern. However, Waltham was also rated highly on protective factors such as our students having adults they can talk to. A new anti-bullying group has been formed at the high school, and there will be a community forum in the spring. To read the article or get involved, please click here or send an email to the Waltham Partnership for Youth.