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November 24
Lake Otis Elementary students make a splash with video PSA

When Marisa Glieco saw the announcement for the Play Every Day video contest for Alaska elementary schools, she decided to put it to a classroom vote.

Glieco, the fifth grade teacher at Lake Otis Elementary in the Anchorage School District, asked her 30 students to raise their hands if they wanted to create a 30-second video promoting water and low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks like soda, powdered mixes and sports drinks.
School-PSA-Poster-2015.resized.jpgAlmost every hand in the class went up.
That started it, and from there Glieco’s class got to work on what would be the winning entry for this year’s Play Every Day video contest for Alaska elementary schools.
One of the rules of the contest was to put the kids in charge of the final video, and that’s exactly what Glieco did.
She asked her students to write down the top three jobs they wanted in film production, and then write a letter to her explaining why they’d be good at those jobs. They vied for jobs like designing the props, putting together the costumes, auditioning the actors, filming the video on iPads, even editing the final video. The students took charge of the entire production.  Glieco just provided direction when needed, but even then she had two students who were picked as the video directors and they took charge of managing all steps from start to finish.
“For the most part, I wanted to give them ownership,” said Glieco, the only teacher in Alaska to participate in the Play Every Day video contest two years in a row. Last year, her third and fourth grade class turned in a creative video using Lego animation to show all the fun ways you could get your 60 minutes of physical activity every day. During the past two years, eight schools in five Alaska school districts turned in videos promoting physical activity and healthy drinks during Play Every Day’s video contests designed for elementary schools.
Glieco’s whole class brainstormed ideas for the video’s script this year. Maybe they should include a water-bottle super hero? What if they included Glieco’s dog in the video? Would that work?
“I was really proud of them,” she said. “It was just really neat to see their creativity come out.”
In the end, the Lake Otis class turned in two videos.  One film was a play on an existing candy bar commercial, but this time the focus was on showing that water — not sugary drinks — satisfies. The second, winning video was a play on a game show, asking students to name the healthiest beverages to quench their thirst. After mistakenly guessing soda and juice, the student in the role of the game show host announces that water is the best drink to hydrate us when we’re thirsty. She then announces that it’s time for a message from our sponsors, and the video cuts to a group of students playing outside. A boy runs up to a bottle of water and drinks it, while words about water are spoken at a very fast-paced clip:
“The positive side effects for drinking water is you stay hydrated, it gives you power, and helps you avoid cavities. It is better than any other sports drinks, soda, or juice. Finally if you drink water you will be able to play every day!”
This speedy read about water was student Arlin Galovin’s idea. He’d seen it done at the end of ads promoting medicines, and he wanted to try it on their video promoting water.
“I thought it would be funny, and people would laugh,” he said. (For the record, the Play Every Day judges scoring this video laughed very hard.)
Students said working on the video project taught them how to work together and complete a project as a class. They had fun while learning how to do their jobs to finish the video. They also learned that some drinks are marketed as healthy, but they’re often not.
“When they say in commercials it’s a healthy drink, it’s really not,” said student Cizzne Mendoza. “There’s sugar in it.”
Instead, the students said, drinking water or milk is better for you than drinking sugary drinks — a message made clear in their winning video.
November 17
Posters over water fountains tout the benefits of water for good health

We walk by water fountains all day long. They’re in the hallways at school. They’re in our offices. They’re next to the bathrooms at the stores where we shop.

Why stop, rather than walk by them?
Play Every Day has the answer in a colorful poster that reminds you about how refreshing water tastes and how hydrating it is.  Water’s free at the fountain, after all, and you can drink it right there or put it in a cup or water bottle for later. Better yet, it hydrates without added sugars.
DrinkWaterResized.jpgPlay Every Day’s new “Drink Water” poster aims to put its very simple message above water fountains or water-bottle filling stations in schools and other facilities throughout Alaska to encourage people to drink up or fill up. This message is key to Play Every Day’s campaign focused on motivating Alaska families to drink fewer sugary drinks (like soda, sports drinks and powdered mixes) and choose water, fat-free milk or low-fat milk instead.
With the help of our partner, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, we sent our “Drink Water” posters to hundreds of rural and urban Alaska schools, tribal partners, public health clinics, and Community Health Aide and Dental Health Aide clinics.
Would you like “Drink Water” posters to hang in your school, office or building? You can download the posters for free in various sizes and formats, or request printed posters to be sent to you. Just visit our Resources website and see what educational materials are available at no cost.
Once at the site, you’ll find our video public service announcements (PSAs) focused on drinking fewer sugary drinks and choosing water, fat-free milk or low-fat milk instead. Some clinics in Alaska are running these PSAs in their waiting rooms. Please let us know if you’d like these PSAs on discs to be aired in your buildings.
You’ll also find our print materials and our sugary drinks lesson plan designed for Alaska elementary schools. Part of the lesson plan is online here. If you’re an educator and haven’t received a copy of the complete lesson plan, or you’re someone looking for printed posters and other materials, please email us at We’ll send you the plan and any other materials that will help share the message about the importance of choosing water or milk instead of sugary drinks for the best health.
November 03
Galena school gets playfully serious through physical activity challenge

Sidney C. Huntington School in Galena is one of the newest schools to sign up for the free Healthy Futures Challenge, and the students in this small Interior village are taking it seriously — very seriously.

Teacher Jared Carlson reported 100 percent participation by his 57 students in elementary and middle school for the month of September. He’s planning for 100 percent participation for October, too.

HFC log.jpgCarlson, the physical education teacher in Galena, taught in Unalakleet last year and watched the students there participate in the physical activity challenge, which encourages young students to be active at least 60 minutes a day for 15 days each month. If students log that activity and turn their log sheets into their schools, they can win prizes and the school can be eligible for grants that support buying physical activity equipment.
“I wanted to find a way to encourage the kids to move every day,” Carlson said. “All of them did it.”
One student moved to Galena after the Challenge had started this fall. Carlson said he had forgotten to tell the student about the Challenge, but no matter: The other classmates made sure the new student knew about it and gave him a log sheet to fill out.
The Fall Challenge will run through November in schools throughout the state. Though the Challenge started in mainly urban school districts in Alaska like Anchorage and Juneau, it has spread to communities small and large in 35 school districts during the past four years.
This year, the nonprofit program Healthy Futures and the state-run Play Every Day campaign partnered with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to promote daily physical activity and increased Healthy Futures participation in schools in rural, and often remote, areas of the state. As a result, new schools signed up from communities on the Aleutians Islands all the way to villages above the Arctic Circle. About 185 Alaska elementary schools have signed up for the Fall Challenge.
About 11,000 elementary students across Alaska have already been logging their physical activity this fall. Elementary schools in Savoonga and Kiana participated for the first time this fall, with about a third of students in both schools turning in physical activity logs. Ketchikan Charter School reported high participation, with 95 of 128 students turning in physical activity logs, said Alyse Loran, who oversees the Challenge for the Healthy Futures program.
In Galena, Carlson makes participation in the Healthy Futures Challenge a part of the students’ physical education grade. His elementary students get the nationally recommended amount of physical education of 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Students also get 15 minutes of daily recess. After that, students find their own way to put in the remaining minutes of activity to meet the 60-minute daily goal for good health. Carlson said they’ve logged their time hiking, fishing, playing soccer, playing hide and seek, even moose hunting.
“Basketball is huge,” he said. Galena also has an indoor swimming pool, which helps the kids stay active throughout the year.
To show support, Carlson fills out a Healthy Futures log and puts it on his classroom door. He writes down his time participating in physical education class, playing volleyball, and walking to and from school – a 2 ½ mile trek each way.
October 28
Water adds up to good health in new Play Every Day PSA

It’s just one soda with dinner. What’s the harm?

That’s the opening line of Play Every Day’s newest public service announcement running on Alaska TV stations.
In just 30 seconds, the PSA flashes back to the sugary drinks a boy consumes at breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. At the same time, a split screen shows the sugar adding up in a glass. By the end, the boy consumes 38 teaspoons of sugar, almost a cup, just from sugary drinks that day. The take-home message is to skip all those sugary drinks and choose water or low-fat milk for the best health.
DrinkWaterResized.jpgPlay Every Day is using its message to bring attention to sugary drinks, the No. 1 source of added sugar in our daily diets. The American Heart Association has set limits for how much sugar adults should eat or drink, namely 6 to 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s less sugar than what you’d find in a single can of soda, or a bottle of a sports drink or a fruit-flavored drink.
The campaign goes beyond raising awareness and inspires families to reduce the amount of sugary drinks served to children. Sugary drinks are linked with a number of serious health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. In Alaska, one out of three children is overweight or obese and two out of three adults are overweight or obese. 
Play Every Day’s new sugary drink messages build on last year’s about how much sugar was hiding in sugary drinks. Those messages put sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and powdered drinks alongside easily recognizable food comparisons. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda could contain as much sugar as 16 chocolate mini doughnuts, and a 20-ounce sports drink could have as much sugar as 10 chocolate chip cookies.
We’ve created a new set of posters that match the new TV messages and have sent them to hundreds of Alaska schools, health clinics and tribal partners. We also created and posted a new school lesson plan that involves showing students the PSA and using a special pop-up poster to show how sugar adds up during the day. The videos, posters, print materials, and lesson plan are posted online. To request a printed lesson plan or any other Play Every Day material, please email
The Play Every Day campaign also focuses on the importance of daily physical activity for the best health and maintaining a healthy weight. The campaign promotes at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day for children and supports participation in the Healthy Futures Challenge, a free school-based physical activity challenge. It’s not too late for elementary schools to sign up for the challenge online.
October 13
Cordova’s Kids on the Run program gives girls a positive plug

Kids might groan about running the mile, but they’ll run plenty of them when playing games like tag and capture the flag with friends. That’s what the Girls on the Run program counts on.

Now in over 225 cities in North America, Girls on the Run focuses on getting pre-adolescent girls physically active through group games and activities while helping them build a strong sense of identity, power and resilience.
Already in Juneau and Homer, the program launched in Cordova this fall and will finish its first session with a community-wide 5K fun run on Oct. 31. Nicole Songer, a volunteer coach and executive director for the Cordova Family Resource Center, said the girls love it. “They’re learning things through games, they’re getting exercise through activities, and they don’t even realize they’re running a lot.”
CordovaGirlsontheRun.Oct13.2015.jpgIn Cordova the program will help girls get the recommended 60 minutes of Play Every Day and contribute to domestic and sexual violence prevention. The Family Resource Center received a one-time prevention grant from the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault to start the program, which typically includes up to 20 girls per session.
“I have seen in these few short weeks girls that would barely speak sharing their views and ideas,” said Songer. Other girls who weren’t getting out and having fun with friends were now “creating a new support group of peers and adults.”
They also learn their differences and embrace them, come to understand what teamwork and friendship mean, and learn to “unplug the negative plug.” That means countering the negative self-talk kids get exposed to on TV, radio and social media – the “you’re not good enough” messages that bombard kids and can become the stories they begin to believe about themselves.
All kids get these messages and need guidance in knowing how to combat them. Cordova has had a basketball program for boys through the Choose Respect Initiative for a few years now.
“We would hear people say, ‘What about the girls?’” said Songer. Now she has the answer; the he community has a positive plug for them, too.

To start a program, communities need to organize a council, get adult volunteers to coach, and submit an initial application and membership fee to the nonprofit, Girls on the Run International, at


Photo courtesy of the Cordova Family Resource Center.

Caption: Girls on the Run group talks about bullying and how to address it during a lesson between physical activities.  

October 06
Let’s get “Every Kid in a Park”

Attention all fourth graders in Alaska. This is your lucky year!

To celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, fourth graders and their families can receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that gives free access to hundreds of national parks, lands and waters for one year. Each pass says “Use as often as you like through August 2016.”
“Because no matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters – these places are your birthright as Americans,” said President Barack Obama on the Every Kid in a Park website.
8-USFWS-Canoe-Alaska.Resized500x.Oct.13.15.jpgPresident Obama recently hiked and boated near glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park during his visit to Alaska, a state with 23 national parks, preserves, historic areas and monuments. Want some ideas of where to go?
·        Denali – Visit the park with North America’s tallest peak.
·        Gates of the Arctic – Looking for a park with no roads or trails? This would be it.
·        Glacier Bay – This park is loaded with a variety of habitats, from glaciers to rainforests.
·        Katmai – Brown bears can put on quite a show in this park.
·        Kenai Fjords – By foot or by boat, see glaciers, animals and all the bounty of the fjords.
·        Kobuk Valley – Did you know you can find sand dunes in Alaska?
·        Lake Clark- Explore an area with steaming volcanoes and turquoise-colored lakes.
·        Wrangell – St. Elias – Spend time in America’s largest national park at 13.2 million acres.
Here’s how fourth-grade students, or 10-year-olds, can get a “Every Kid in a Park” pass.
1.   Go online to complete a short activity.
2.   After completing the activity, you’ll get a voucher for a free 4th Grade Annual Pass. (If you want, you can exchange your paper vouchers for a keepsake pass at certain national park locations.)
3.   Print the vouchers.
4.   Pick a park! Take your voucher with you to show to the park ranger at the entrance to any national park. If there’s no park ranger, you can put the pass on the dashboard of your family’s car.
11-NPS-Minute Man NHP.Resized500x.Oct.13.15.jpgYou and your families will have free access to the national parks through August 30, 2016. If you visit a national park site that charges entrance fees, the pass will give you free access to all children under 16 years old and up to three adults traveling with the fourth-grader. The pass does not cover camping, boats and special tours.

Now, if you’re in fourth grade, don’t delay. Get online and take just five minutes to get a year’s worth of free fun and adventure in America’s national parks.


Top photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Laubenstein, Ronald.

Bottom photo courtesy of National Park Service.

September 29
Kids tackle sugary drinks in Play Every Day PSA contest

In student-made videos from last year’s Play Every Day PSA contest, kids shared the many ways they like to play – skiing, running, dancing, playing tag, climbing, zig-zagging over the playground, and just goofing off in the snow.

This year’s PSA contest invites students from Alaska public elementary schools to tackle a different message about how sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and powdered drinks can add up to weight gain, tooth decay and a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The main message is simple: drink water instead. 
School-PSA-Poster-2015.jpgMarisa Glieco’s third- and fourth-grade class at Lake Otis Elementary created a video last year. As the class came up with ideas and produced the PSA, she noticed how much kids really do care about their healthy and unhealthy habits, and how they want to share what they’re doing to improve their health.
“I really enjoyed watching the students work together and learn from one another,” she said.  “I believe that this is just a great relatable interactive way to get our students involved with the promotion of healthy habits.”
Her fifth-grade class this year has already narrowed their ideas down to two and will plot them out to see which will work in the 30-second time frame. She pretty much leaves everything from the brainstorming to the editing to the kids.
“They are brilliant and I love how they come up with ideas and piggy back off each other,” she said, “as well as how they start to find out what they would like to do - costume design, set design, directing, acting. It really is something that is difficult to explain - it is just such a passion project for myself and them - that all comes together organically.”
Students from public schools all over the state submitted 11 videos last year, and Play Every Day hopes to see even more this time around.
Creators of the top three videos, along with their schools, will receive gift cards or other prizes that support getting physically active and drinking water. Their PSAs will also appear as public service announcements online and through social media.
The PSA contest is open to all public elementary students and is free to enter. The deadline is 5 p.m., Oct. 30, 2015, and forms and rules are available at Play Every Day.
September 22
Sharing our message with rural Alaska

This fall, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) started a new partnership with Play Every Day to get messages about physical activity and healthy drinks to families in rural communities, including some of the most remote communities in the state.

The goal of the Play Every Day campaign is to prevent and reduce childhood obesity — a serious health concern throughout Alaska. About 1 out of 3 children in Alaska is overweight or obese, and 2 out of 3 Alaska adults are overweight or obese. This puts thousands of Alaskans of all ages at risk for weight-related chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Our vision at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is that Alaska Native people are the healthiest in the world. Partnering with Play Every Day is a natural fit as we are both working toward the same goal — to prevent serioKeep a Healthy Smile Poster ANTHC. Resized 500x.jpgus chronic health problems like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues that can affect Alaskans from childhood all the way into adulthood,” said Erin Peterson, Wellness Strategies for Health Program Manager with ANTHC. “Play Every Day will be able to share educational materials that promote good health with families from Ketchikan to Unalaska to Point Hope.”
To improve the health of Alaska families, Play Every Day has focused its messages on two key areas: increasing the amount of physical activity that families get each day and reducing the number of sugary drinks they consume (think sodas, sports and energy drinks, powdered drinks and more).
In August and September, ANTHC helped Play Every Day air a TV public service announcement promoting 60 minutes of daily physical activity for the best health. The PSA also encourages children to participate in the free Healthy Futures Challenge.
ANTHC, Play Every Day and Healthy Futures are working together to increase the number of students who take the physical activity challenge that asks students to be active at least 60 minutes a day for 15 days each month. Students can add up all their activity each day — including activity during gym class and recess — to reach the 60-minute goal. Students and schools will win prizes for their participation. Elementary schools throughout Alaska can still sign up for the challenge.  
This month, about 100 schools in rural Alaska and Alaska Native tribal partners will receive Play Every Day posters to hang as reminders for being physically active and choosing water instead of sugary drinks. These posters are all found online here. If you’d like posters to hang in your school, office or business, please email
September 15
Kicking it at the White House with Let’s Move!

Anchorage will get some well-deserved national attention at the White House in a Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties event Sept. 16 that will acknowledge Anchorage and 51 other cities for obtaining five gold medals in five core obesity prevention areas.

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive obesity prevention initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010. Anchorage Assembly Vice-Chair Elvi Gray-Jackson and Chief Fiscal Officer Alden Thern will represent Anchorage at the gathering.
Gray-Jackson will even get the honor of introducing the First Lady.

This recognition of Anchorage’s efforts to reduce obesity results from a task force launched by Gray-Jackson and fellow Assembly member Dick Traini in grayjackson-6839.croppedx500.jpgFebruary 2014. The group included advocates and representatives from nonprofits, the Anchorage School District, community groups, and state and municipal agencies (including Alaska’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program and Play Every Day campaign). The task force documented and helped implement programs that met five Let’s Move! goals:
·         Start Early, Start Smart
·         MyPlate, Your Place
·         Smart Servings for Students
·         Model Food Service
·         Active Kids at Play
“Because of obesity prevention activities already taking place, mostly through efforts of the State and the Anchorage School District, the task force reached its goals in record time,” said Gray-Jackson. “I was impressed to see our community, with such high obesity numbers, taking the lead to improve the situation. Because Anchorage is one of the few cities reaching gold in all five goals, it really puts our community on the map. We are leaders in the Far North.” 
Obesity Prevention has come a long way, said Melanie Sutton, the Curriculum Coordinator for Health & Physical Education with the Anchorage School District. “The recognition of these accomplishments through the Let's Move! Anchorage awards is an affirmation that our efforts have been in the right direction,” she said.
The same day that Gray-Jackson introduces the First Lady, kids in Anchorage and Eagle River will be running in the Beach Lake Area Jamboree at Chugiak High School. The Anchorage School District elementary Jamborees will draw over 6,000 elementary students and even volunteers to cross-country trails across the city this week, according to Sutton.
Allowing kids to do what gives them joy makes all the difference in developing lifetime habits around physical activity, said Dr. Pete Mjos, a physician and advocate who participated in the recent task force. He hopes that national recognition will draw local attention to the 2006 Municipality of Anchorage Ten Year Plan on Obesity and Health.
The plan provides a rigorous strategy for increasing physical activity, improving access to nutritional food, and creating safe and accessible environments for people to get out and play, he said. “For me, the most significant thing is beyond the goal of getting recognized. What has been achieved and recognized should only be the foundation of what still needs to be done and implemented.”
Photo: Assembly Vice-Chair Elvi Gray-Jackson
September 09
Play Every Day kicks off new video contest to promote healthy drinks

Last fall we tried something new. We asked Alaska kids to pick up a video camera and film students choosing fun ways to get out and play.

It was a hit. We received 11 videos from all over the state, so we’re doing it again this year.
With a twist.School-PSA-Poster-2015.jpg
This year, Play Every Day’s video PSA contest challenges elementary school students across Alaska to film a video that motivates kids to put down sugary drinks and choose water or low-fat milk. The contest starts now and the deadline for entries is Friday, October 30.
Play Every Day has been airing PSAs, or public service announcements, on TV for the past year that focus on the large amount of sugar hiding in drinks. It’s not just soda that’s loaded with sugar. Sports and energy drinks, powdered drinks, and vitamin-enhanced drinks come with large amounts of sugar that can lead to serious health problems, like tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. Our PSAs end with our take-home message: Choose healthier drinks. Drink water or low-fat milk.
Our PSAs are all online here. If you held the camera to tell the story, what would your PSA look like?
You have a chance to show us during the next two months. Here’s how it works:
Who: All Alaska public elementary school students in grades K-6. All entries must be supported and sponsored by a teacher or another adult school staff member. Students should take the lead in the creative direction and production, but an adult can advise students and help with the filming.
What: Make a 25-second public service announcement (PSA) video that motivates Alaska kids and families to choose water or low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and powdered drinks.
When: Start now! Come up with your ideas, film the video and turn it in by 5 p.m. October 30, 2015.
Where: Film at your school or in your communities.
Why: Kids have creative ideas, and we want to see how you would help spread the message about the importance of choosing healthy drinks.
A panel of judges from the Play Every Day campaign will select the top three videos based on overall presentation, creativity, quality and adherence to the contest criteria. The school that films the first-place video will receive a $500 gift card to buy physical activity equipment for the school, plus Play Every Day T-shirts and a reusable Play Every Day water cup for participating students, teachers and the principal. Prizes also are available for the second- and third-place entries.
Want more information about the contest? Please visit our webpage to learn more.
We can’t wait to see what you create!
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