06:10 AM

S.T.A.R. Power: Teaching Kids Healthy Habits

New TV and radio public service announcements (PSAs) are appearing as part of the S.T.A.R. Power Program, a community outreach program designed to help youngsters develop healthy habits.

Provided by Children's Mercy in partnership with Kohl's, the S.T.A.R. Power program is committed to supporting "Strong, Talented, Authentic and Resilient" kids.

Missy Stover, S.T.A.R. Power Program Coordinator and Child Life Specialist, said the new PSAs are designed to enlist the support of parents in reinforcing healthy lifestyle messages. In addition to the PSAs, Facebook content is targeted to parents.

Missy visits elementary schools across the greater Kansas City area to deliver interactive presentations and hands-on fun activities.

"The classroom sessions give us the opportunity to talk directly to kids and hopefully influence their behavior, but we also realize that what parents are doing and teaching their kids at home has a huge influence as well," Missy said. "We can talk all day long about healthy food choices, but if parents are bringing home unhealthy fast food and putting it on the table, it's hard for kids to make a healthy choice."

The S.T.A.R. Power Program has enjoyed tremendous growth since launching in 2010. Missy said classroom programs will reach about 5,000 students this year; another 12,000 will see S.T.A.R. Power at community events such as Family Fun Days at the Power and Light District. The PSAs and other campaign activities are expected to generate more than 17 million impressions (audience exposed to a media message).

"I'm really pleased with how word has spread about the program," Missy said. "A lot of schools, camps and child-care programs have sought us out. I'm proud of the reputation the S.T.A.R. Program has established."

The program concentrates on four key messages to maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Healthy Eating
  • Movement
  • Relaxation
  • Self Esteem

Students give Missy a warm reception and take the messages to heart.

"So many kids identify positively with Children's Mercy," Missy said. "They see Children's Mercy as THE experts. They really do listen and take part in our discussions."

Teachers also appreciate the S.T.A.R. Power presentations. Courtney Huynh, a third-grade teacher at Lindbergh Elementary School in Kansas City, Kan., said, "The program was absolutely wonderful. Missy Stover was very energetic and really made a strong connection with my students. Many of my urban students aren't always surrounded by healthy life choices, and I think that the program's contents really opened their eyes to the choices they have. I hope we are able to utilize the S.T.A.R. Power program again next year."