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 February 2017
   American Heart Awareness Month 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. The month of February is American Heart Awareness Month and is dedicated to raising awareness about heart disease and increasing knowledge about prevention. By finding an enjoyable way to lead an active lifestyle, you can keep your heart healthy and strong.

Some of the leading factors that increase your chances of developing heart disease include smoking, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and lack of physical activity. Simple ways you can prevent heart disease are to not smoke, manage your blood sugar and blood pressure by having regular checkups, lower your cholesterol by eating healthy, and engaging in regular physical activity.

Students at Shelton elementary schools this month will be doing their part in educating themselves, the community, and raising awareness on heart health by participating in multiple events in support of American Heart Month. Hosted by the American Heart Association, "Jump Rope for Heart" is an event where students learn jump rope skills and how their heart works. “Jump Rope for Heart” is not only a beneficial learning opportunity for students, but it also serves as a fundraiser to help the American Heart Association. Money raised from this event helps fund projects all over the country dedicated to heart health research.

In addition, some Shelton Schools will be participating in "Go Red for Women,” also hosted by the American Heart Association. Students and teachers will wear red to advocate for heart disease prevention education for women. National Wear Red Day this year is February 3, 2017. Students and parents can get involved by using the hashtag #GoRedWearRed on social media, or by visiting their website, for more information.
School Spotlight: Derby High School's Student Wellness Club
Eric O' Tool is a PE teacher and advisor of Derby High School's new Student Wellness Club (SWC). The club was created when students began expressing  interest in health and fitness. The goal of the SWC is to promote health and wellness throughout the school community.

The SWC has already impacted the school by implementing projects that work to improve nutrition, phys
cal activity, and wellness. The club is pushing for a salad bar and a made-to-order sandwich station by surveying students about their meal preferences. Other projects include a tea cart with free tea and health snacks for teachers on Friday mornings, smoothie stands at basketball games, cookie tasting in the cafeteria to offer healthier options, and a school wide volleyball tournament fundraiser.

In collaboration with Seymour High School, the SWC have created activity burst videos for use in elementary and middle school classrooms. These videos include students demonstrating various activities that could be performed to recharge students during class. These videos offer basic and advanced activity bursts, ranging from stretches to full-body activities. These bursts can also be tailored towards specific subject. For example, a geography class could create movements that corresponded with unique parts of different states. Student could pretend to surf the Pacific Ocean or walk over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Future plans for the SWC include revitalizing the garden at Derby High School, developing a student-run wellness fair, and increasing focus on increasing breakfast participation.

Follow the Derby High School Wellness Club on Twitter!
Stepping Stones Museum "Healthyville"
Stepping Stones Museum for Children is full of exciting exhibits and educational programs. The museum prides itself on being a fun, colorful and engaging environment that explores the value of learning through playing.Exhibits range from various subjects of learning, such as an Energy Lab that explores the science of energy, as well as Build It! which allows children to experiment with architectural design and construction. All exhibits are engaging experiences that allow children to be hands-on!
The museum offers traveling exhibits are available for a limited time. The museums beloved Healthyville was developed decades ago and is returning "home" after being transformed into a national traveling show Healthyville is a mock children's village  that is loaded with tips on nutrition, fitness, safety, hygiene and functions of the body.Like other exhibits in the museum, Healthyville promotes "Learning by doing" through numerous hands-on activities to explore topics in a way that help children understand their bodies and the importance of making healthy choices.  Among the highlights include “shopping” for healthy foods at the market, inspecting the “ins and outs” of a giant’s nose (and the importance of covering the nose during a sneeze), brushing a giant’s teeth and playing food detective (searching for salt and sugar).

Healthyville was created by Stepping Stones Museum for Children as a part of its Healthy Children, Healthy Communities® initiative. The exhibit is now open and will be available until Labor Day 2017. Click the picture below for more information about Stepping Stones Museum for Children and special events or activities that will be offered in conjunction with Healthyville.
Healthy Recipes
  With Valentine's Day around the corner and chocolate filling the store shelves, this month we've included a couple recipes to fulfill your chocolate fix without the guilt.  

Dark Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

Dark chocolate, creamy greek yogurt, and sweet strawberries are the perfect combination in this frosty heart healthy Valentine's Day Dark Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie!
  • ½ cup nonfat or lowfat strawberry Greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup skim milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • ½ cup ice (only if using fresh berries)
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender (or Bullet, food processor, etc.) and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and top with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired. Enjoy immediately!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffin


These delicious dark-chocolate muffins are completely vegan and perfect for any occasion or party! Click the image for the recipe

Chocolate Chicken Mole

This chicken recipe has great flavor from a variety of ingredients, such as cocoa powder! Prepare it as a meal or serve as an appetizer
Click the image for the recipe.

Staying Active
Wake up with a stretch!
Down Dog is a free app for iPhone and Android devices which gives you the ability to set the level and length of yoga session. No equipment needed!
Less exposure to sunlight over the winter months can make many of us feel chronically tired. Yoga has the ability make us feel energized,  improve our concentration and coordination by helping increasing blood circulation to your muscles. Incorporating small stretching sessions into your day with your child has also been shown to improve their confidence and self esteem. Even 5 minutes can get our body feeling energized and give you a moment to connect as a family.
Enjoy the Resources in your Community!
With the cold winter months upon us, it can be tough to stay active. Despite the cold weather, there are many community resources available that the whole family can use to stay active. Check out some of the resources listed below!
Seymour Community Center: The Seymour Community Center is pleased to announce the opening of its new fitness center. Located in room 130 of the Community Center, the new fitness center features a treadmill, stationary bike, weight rack, Zumba classes, and youth & adult sports. Seymour community Center is located at 20 Pine Street, Seymour, CT 06483. Register for the center at or by calling 203-888-0406.
Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center: Gather the whole family and bundle up for free guided hikes through the center's 150 acre woodlands and fields. Every Sunday at 1:00pm, a representative from the Nature Center leads groups on a hike around the center.  This is a great opportunity to get the family out of the house for some exercise! The Ansonia Nature Center is located at 10 Deerfield Road, Ansonia, CT 06401. More information is available on the Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center web site,
Shelton Community Center: Do you want access to a full fitness center without having to pay the expensive gym fees? The Shelton Community Center offers a full gym, complete with weights, machines, and even a swimming pool at a very friendly rate. Shelton residents can enjoy full access to the fitness center for just $85/year.  The community center also offers a wide variety of free trial classes for adults and children. Shelton Community Center is located at 41 Church Street, Shelton, CT 06484. To register for classes or subscribe to the mailing list, visit their web site, 
Upcoming Events

26th Valley Community Corporate Cup
March 6, 2017
The Valley YMCA, Griffin Hospital, Valley United Way, and Valley Chamber of Commerce are collaborating for the 26th Valley Community Corporate Cup, an event designed to improve fitness and quality of life while building company morale and showing community support.

The premier event is the ‘Healthy Team,’ where teams of 2 compete against others in areas such as Blood Pressure, cholesterol, Glucose, HDL, and a walking contest. Other events include bowling, a basketball shot contest, horse shoes, bocce, and corn hole. Healthy Team kicks off on March 6, 2017. More information is available on the Valley United Way site,

Snowshoe Saturday: Getting Ready for Bluebirds
Saturday, February 11, 1:30 pm

It can be tough to get out of the house and stay active during the cold winter months. Ranger Dan from the Ansonia Nature Center is hosting a free guided hike through the nature center’s woodlands and fields to clean out the bluebird boxes and get them ready for birds to start nesting in March.

Spend some time outside with the family and borrow free snowshoes from the nature center to help you on your hike. The Nature Center is located at 10 Deerfield Road, Ansonia, CT 06401. Pre-register by emailing
ShopRite Cholesterol & Glucose Screenings

Every few months, ShopRite offers free Cholesterol and Glucose screenings at a variety of store locations. No appointment needed!

ShopRite of Shelton: Sunday, February 5th 10:00am-2:00pm
ShopRite of Derby: Saturday, February 25th 10:00am-2:00pm
 Massaro Community Farm will be hosting a fundraising event staring the grammy winning musician Paul Winter. 
All proceeds will support  the farm's education efforts and food donations.
Click the poster for tickets.

Connect with Us!
VITAHLS is a childhood obesity prevention initiative collaboration between Griffin Hospital, Yale Griffin PRC, and the Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton school districts. Since 2011, VITAHLS has integrated a variety of nutrition and physical activity programs into the existing school structure to help reduce childhood obesity.
Copyright © 2017 VITAHLS, All rights reserved.

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