Wheeling Hospital Teaching Importance of Healthy Lifestyle

Photo by Carri Graham Wheeling Hospital registered dietitian Jill Spangler explains the importance of eating healthy to Bridgeport Elementary students on Tuesday.

Students from Bridgeport learned some valuable lessons Tuesday that may help them remain healthy throughout the summer and the rest of their lives.

Wheeling Hospital hosted an educational seminar focused on living a healthy lifestyle for 74 third-grade students from Bridgeport Elementary on Tuesday morning.

Wheeling Hospital Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Gregg Warren explained that the Bridgeport school contacted the hospital and asked if it could accommodate and host the program this year. Warren said the hospital gladly agreed.

“We always try to give back to the community. This is one of the way we can do it,” Warren said. “The hospital is involved in many things in the area. Bridgeport (school) contacted us to see if we could provide some kind of healthy day for their kids. We accepted.”

Warren went on to explain that one role of the hospital in the community is to promote preventive care.

“Wheeling Hospital, aside from diagnosing and treating health problems, we also are very active in trying to prevent problems from the start,” he said. “One of the ways we do that is through internal and external community education programs. We do a lot of things to educate, not only our patients but the public, about healthy habits, whether it be exercise or eating. This is one of the programs we do. We do it for kids and for adults.”

Three Wheeling Hospital staff speakers instructed students at the program. Each staff member explained a different aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, in relation to their field, to the students. The topics covered included diet, exercise and lung health.

Registered dietitian Jill Spangler got things started by leading students in a dance, which the students seemed to thoroughly enjoy. She then explained the importance of exercise and eating healthy. She led the students in chanting “exercise” and “eat healthy.” She explained that together, these two aspects of self-care give you the best results for a healthy life.

Spangler then showed the students a food plate diagram called “MyPlate,” similar to the familiar food pyramid. It is used as a nutritional education tool and shows the food groups necessary for a healthy diet. There are five portions included on the plate: grains, fruit, vegetables, protein and dairy.

“Every day you want to try to get a balanced diet,” Spangler told the students.

She went on to tell the children that they each have their own “MyPlate” right in the palm of their hand, which can be used as a guide.

“The palm of your hand is your serving size of protein and grains. Then you want to fill your fingers with fruits and vegetables. … The next time you go out to eat, use your hand as a reference (for portion size),” she advised.

Respiratory therapist Dominic Moscato spoke to students about lung health and the harmful effects of smoking. He began by having students stand, take a deep breath in and then exhale. He did this to show students how the body works.

“Our bodies are like machines. … We want you guys to start living healthy, even at your age,” he said. “Don’t wait until you are older. … We want you to start now. We want you to eat healthy, exercise and maintain your body.”

He talked about the damaging effects that smoking e-cigs, vaporizers and cigarettes can have on the body and lungs.

“Once the lungs are damaged, they don’t get better they just get worse,” Moscato said.

The third and final speaker at the program was Howard Long Wellness Center Director Joe Slavik, who talked more about the benefits of exercise. He told the students that in order to fully benefit from physical activity, a person should exercise regularly to keep the body and heart healthy. Exercise 60 minutes a day, seven days a week, Slavik suggested.

Third-grade teacher Chante Adams described the importance of such programs to a student’s overall education.

“One of our mission statements at Bridgeport is to get involved with the community and give the kids the opportunity, outside of our school, to make connections with the community. This is a great opportunity for this. Plus, the hospital can sometimes be a negative for kids, so getting to come here and see a different side of it is a good thing, too.

Bridgeport Elementary has provided such programs for youngsters many years, Adams said. However, this is the first year it has been held at Wheeling Hospital.

Wheeling Hospital Outreach Coordinator Beth Zebick helped to organize the event and introduced the speakers. She is known as “Miss Beth” to students and has been teaching at the hospital’s “Safety Town” program for young children for 33 years.

Wheeling Hospital provided the students with lunch before they headed back to school.

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