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Central Iowa Kids Coalition launches 5-2-1-0 campaign


Students at Carver Elementary School in Des Moines can run around an outdoor track at recess, sample kiwi and other healthy fresh foods in the classroom, and get some focused time to stretch or participate in other mindfulness techniques as short breaks during the school day. 

These types of built-in health and wellness activities are part of the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count program launched today by the new Central Iowa Well Kids Coalition. The coalition represents a public-private partnership of more than 30 Greater Des Moines organizations committed to promoting healthy habits with kids and families. 

“This is the first time our community has come together around one message that offers an easy and fun way for families to live healthy every day,” United Way of Central Iowa President Elisabeth Buck said during a kickoff event held at the school. 

5-2-1-0 promotes the following guidelines for families to make healthy choices every day: 

  • 5 servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • 2 hours or less of screen time.
  • 1 hour of exercise.
  • 0 sugary drinks and more water.

United Way of Central Iowa has led the work to promote 5-2-1-0 in Central Iowa in partnership with Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, which is working with 16 schools and child-serving centers, and Blank Children’s Hospital, which is working with 11 clinics from five different health companies to implement strategies that promote 5-2-1-0 with kids and families. The Central Iowa initiative is funded by Hy-Vee Inc. and the Wellmark Foundation. 

“At Carver, we especially appreciate that it’s not another program to implement, but rather guidelines that we can follow every day,” said Principal Jill Burnett Requist. The running program using the track has been particularly popular with the school’s nearly 600 students, who last year completed 97,000 laps around the one-seventh-mile track, she said. 

To date, 14,397 children and their families have been touched by 5-2-1-0 efforts in Central Iowa, officials said. 

“By focusing on the health of our students, we are improving their development, increasing their ability to focus in the classroom, raising their reading scores, and ultimately helping them graduate and succeed lifelong,” said Teree Caldwell Johnson, chair of the Des Moines Public Schools board. “It’s incredible to see our community unite all of our health initiatives under one shared effort to improve the well-being of our kids.”

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