Healthy Habits Begin Here!

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Childhood Obesity is a major problem in the United States – just ask Michelle Obama.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities has set out a mission to combat this problem starting right here at home with the youth we serve.  Along with the University of Minnesota Twin Cities School of Nursing, BBBS is set to launch the new Healthy Habits Program. This program, funded by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, was created to educate local youth on eating healthy and staying active.

There are countless resources in the Twin Cities dedicated to wellness, but many children remain stuck at home due to lack of transportation or the supervision to attend those activities. This is where the Healthy Habits comes in. The program offers both Bigs and Littles a variety of fun, healthy activities where everybody can participate and have a good time, while also ensuring that Littles always have a ride and a chaperone. Along with exercise-based activities, Healthy Habits focuses on making educated food choices. Sessions will be offered to teach matches how to find fresh produce around their community and cook with it at home. To keep active, Healthy Habits will provide sessions at the YMCA to help Littles utilize the programs available in their community. Both types of activities will encourage healthy, long-lasting attitudes toward food and exercise.

This program will kick off October 2016 with events twice a month through October 2017. Matches will be given a “Health Pass” to encourage repeat attendance at Healthy Habits events. When matches attend at least 7 Healthy Habits activities, as noted in their “Health Pass”, they will receive a prize for their efforts. As a part of the Healthy Habits Program, researchers from the UMN School of Nursing will also attend the events and collect valuable data. Their hope is to figure out ways that mentors can better facilitate healthy habits in the lives of their mentees.

We’re looking forward to a very fit and active 2016-2017!

4 Mind-blowing Museums to Visit in May

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May is Minnesota Museums Month, and the Twin Cities has no shortage of exciting spots to hit. Here are our top picks for the most fun, educational, and inexpensive museums for you and your Little.

  • Minnesota History Center This is one of the best museums for matches of all ages. Interactive exhibits like “Then, Now, Wow” will keep younger Littles engaged, while older teens will love walking through “Open House: If These Walls Could Talk,” a replica of a real Minnesota home that housed 50 families over the years.
  • Mill City Museum Not only is the location beautiful, what you find inside is even more striking. Get messy with baking labs or take the 8-story elevator ride through the exhibits. Once you’ve worn yourselves out, hit the 9th floor Observation Deck for some jaw-dropping views of St Anthony Falls and the Mississippi River
  • Minnesota Children’s Museum This one is a given. Come on, it’s designed for kids! If you’ve got a Little who’s on the younger side, this is a spot you can’t miss. In exhibits like Earth World, Our World, and World Works, everything is hands-on. We promise, your Little won’t want to leave.
  • Bell Museum of Natural History Located on the University of Minnesota campus, this museum constantly has something new for your Little to explore. Particularly adventurous kids can interact with live reptiles and amphibians, and don’t miss Saturday with a Scientist every weekend from 11-2 for presentations from local experts on cool and creepy topics like poisons and the human body.

6 ways to help your Little stay sharp this summer

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Summer vacation is just around the corner, and in addition to all of the fun outings and adventures you and your Little will have, you can help him or her retain some of that knowledge they’ve been working on all year! Here are six ways to help your Little stay ahead of the game.

Grow a garden The benefits of gardening are countless: kids learn about science in a fun environment, it teaches them valuable skills like responsibility and patience, and you both have delicious, healthy vegetables to eat throughout the summer!

Make a scrapbook You’ll want to remember all of the great experiences you’ll have with you Little this summer, so help him or her keep a scrapbook of everything from tickets, photos, and notes. He’ll be practicing his writing skills and you’ll both be glad you kept a memento.

Volunteer You obviously understand the importance of volunteering, now pass that knowledge on to your Little. There are tons of volunteer opportunities around the Twin Cities whether you want to work with people, animals, or nature.

Read For some kids, reading feels like a chore. It doesn’t have to be. Options involving reading are everywhere, so find on that engages your Little. Read to her, have her read to you, start your own book club and discuss the books you are reading, or sign up for the summer reading program at your local library.

Cook together Whip up some of your famous chocolate chip cookies, or try out one of these wacky recipes. Then, use that time to work with your Little on counting, measuring and

Take a nature hike Be active and enjoy the nice weather while learning about science and nature. Point out different types of leaves, bugs and animals, and then do some research on them when you get back.