Schools find healthy celebrations can be just as sweet

| 08 Jun 2021 | 02:29

Lafayette. Treating kids to the same exciting birthday parties and other celebrations as ever — but with healthier choices or non-food festivities — was discussed at the May 19 meeting of the Sussex County Child Health Crisis Work Group.

“Now more than ever our students need to feel celebrated and supported, but rather than continue to celebrate with sweet treats as the only option, the work group is working to provide ideas and suggestions for a healthier option for celebrations,” said Jennifer Cenatiempo, superintendent of the Lafayette Township School District.

One suggestion the group has implemented with much success in a few districts is holding monthly birthday celebrations for all the students who have a birthday in the same month.

“In this way we were able to reduce the number of sugar-laden items to ten in the school year with all birthdays for the month being celebrated on a selected day,” she said. “Some schools have replaced the birthday food treats with non-food celebrations such as additional time for recess, a special outdoor game, or other classroom honors, such as being the line leader.”

Cenatiempo said decisions about food and celebrations are made by each school. “The objective of the health collaborative is to promote small changes such as the monthly birthday celebration to encourage a shift in the culture of schools towards a health awareness perspective,” she said. “The goal is to make the celebrations more about the students and less about the sweets that are associated with the celebrations.”