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H ealth in
th e H allw ays
K e e p y o u r k id s f it, w e ll, a n d h a p p y
w i t h t h i s b a c k - t o - s c h o o l l e s s o n p la n .
BY JULIE EVANS
TAKE SEVERAL HUNDRED
Make activity fun
thousand kids, squeeze them all together
long periods at the computer can cause
with high-tech jump ropes that count the
in the same building, put them to work
doing demanding mental and physical
eye strain, dry eye, and problems with
jumps, inline skates, or gift certificates to
focusing and binocular vision (how eyes
the rock-climbing gym or roller rink.
tasks, and inevitably a variety of health
work together). Teach kids the Rule of
If it’s practical and
and wellness issues are going to crop up.
20: Every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to
safe, encourage teens to walk or ride
Here’s your guide to some of the most
pressing health concerns—and what you
look at least 20 feet away.
bicycles to school.
can do about them.
responsible for lawn and garden care,
Physical education has been cut in many
including mowing and raking.
districts, and daily recess and gym class
It doesn’t have to be
Kids take in 80 percent of what they
are no longer a given. In schools that do
competitive, just active. Consider skiing,
learn through their eyes, says Pamela A.
provide P.E., class sizes have doubled or
scuba diving racquetball—anything that
Lowe,an optometrist in Niles, Illinois,
even tripled, so quality suffers as well.
raises a glimmer of interest.
and spokeswoman for the American
“I’ve walked into classes with 90 kids in
Optométrie Association. “Children may
have vision problems that school
the gym,” says Jacalyn Lund, coordinator
for health and physical education at
Is that sullen kid upstairs behind closed
screenings usually don’t detect,” she says.
Georgia State University. According to the
doors suffering from normal teen angst
U.S. Surgeon General, children and teens
or something else? Parents may find it
The association urges that children be
should get at least 60 minutes of vigorous
hard to tell the difference between minor
examined by an optometrist or an
physical activity daily, but most American
moods and major depression. To diagnose
depression, experts look for several
ophthalmologist at 6 to 12 months old, at
youth don’t. Growing bodies are designed
qge 3, prior to first grade, and every two
to move, says Dr. David Di Paolo, an
symptoms over a period of time, says Dr.
years thereafter. Kids who wear glasses or
associate professor at the University of
Paramjit T. Joshi, chair of the Department
contacts should be seen annually.
Texas Health Center at Tyler. If your child
of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at
the Children’s National Medical Center in
isn’t getting enough exercise, step in.
These can include frequent headache
■ Bond on sidewalks
Washington, D.C. Kids who have at least
complaints, using a finger to follow text,
may mutter and moan at first, but walks
5 of the following 8 symptoms nearly
closing one eye when reading, rubbing
together are an excellent way to talk
about both of your days, giving both
every day for at least two weeks should
eyes often, and squinting.
health and relationship benefits.
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BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS SEPTEMBER2008 2 4 3