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Healthy Hawk Week

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Each year, Healthy Hawk Week swoops into Alamosa Park Elementary School, bringing with it lessons about eating right and exercising.

Throughout the week, students learn healthy habits through a variety of games and exercises that are organized by parents and educators at the school.

"It really has been a tradition at our school that folks look forward to," Principal Vivian Firestone said."Being healthy and making good choices is a really big priority for this school."

Each day is assigned a certain color. Students are asked to wear that color and bring in different fruits and vegetables that match it. This helps to expose them to new foods.

Another way they can try something new is by participating in a taste challenge inspired by the TV show "Fear Factor." In that activity, educators dare the children to try some less common fruits and vegetables. Those have included apricots, garbanzo beans, snap peas, cranberries and dates.

The week culminates with a decathlon or jog-a-thon each year. This year's decathlon featured such food-centric challenges as melon lifting, tomato put, lettuce dribble and cucumber javelin.

"I think it makes an impact, because I think they'll remember it," said Liz DeBaets, a mom who helped organize the events this year.

Kids said they thought the activities were fun.

"It gets you healthy so you can run faster," said Caiden Campbell, a first-grader at the school who said he loves running.

Sophia Puebla, another first-grader there said she was happy to learn that she likes mango after trying it for the first time at school.

"We get to eat lots of fruits," she said about the Healthy Hawk Week.

Other activities throughout the week include garden tours, special assemblies and milk mustache day.

The events are a cooperative effort between the Parent-Teacher Association there, the Alamosa Park Educational Foundation and the Vista Unified School District Child Nutrition Services Department.

"It really is a community effort," Firestone said.

Parents at the school started the Healthy Hawk Week seven years ago. Since then, 10 Vista Unified schools have started similar events.

"It makes it fun for the kids," said Amy Haessly, a supervisor with the district's Child Nutrition Services Department."My goal is to link the cafeteria to the classroom."

The bottom line, she said, is that healthy children learn better.

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