Think Outside the Lunchbox with Shape Up Us

by Jyl Steinback

Moving the global diet toward a healthy plant-based regimen is best done with an aim toward young children and through our school system. That’s the reason Shape Up Us has developed a plant-based curriculum, designed to fight America’s toughest health problems: childhood obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. 

Did you know that:

  • 16% of children between 6 – 19 years of age are obese
  • 60% of obese children between 5 – 10 have at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor
  • 30% of boys and 40% of girls born in 2000 are at risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes

Shape Up Us is a 501(c) 3 organization that works to empower children and families to lead healthier lives, hoping to cut the risks of obesity. On its board are prominent plant-based experts, including medical director Dr. Scott Stoll, co-founder of the Plantrician Project and Susan Benigas, executive director of American College of Lifestyle Medicine. 

Photo Courtesy of Shape Up US

As part of its mission, Shape Up Us has developed a comprehensive wellness education curriculum called Hip Hop Healthy Heart Program for Children™.  This first plant-based curriculum ever developed provides a whole child-centered approach to learning that has been missing. 

According to the CDC, “most US children attend school for 6 hours a day and consume as much as half of their daily calories at school. CDC recommends that schools implement policies and practices to create a nutrition environment that supports students in making healthy choices.”

More than 30 million children in the US are enrolled in K-6th grade. Reaching this many kids with a turn-key curriculum is a solid solution to the lifestyle and behavioral challenges facing society. 

“If we want the best academic outcomes, the most efficient and cost-effective route to achieve that is, counter intuitively, not to narrowly focus on academics, but to also address children’s social, emotional, and physical development. Similarly, the best and most efficient route to physical health is through also addressing emotional, social, and cognitive wellness. Emotional wellness, similarly, depends critically on social, cognitive, and physical wellness,” says cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Adele Diamond.

This is where Shape Up’s online K – 6 curriculum comes in to help lead this culture change toward plant-based lifestyles. 

Teachers and Homeschools help bring about these lifestyle and behavioral changes, using the multi-disciplinary health and wellness education program, integrating core curricula that includes math, science, social studies, language arts, geography and more. 

Students receive hands-on learning opportunities integrated throughout a relevant, standards based, meaningful, and fun curriculum that is optimized for personalized learning. So, the program attacks childhood obesity through physical activities, it features resources to teach students about healthy, eating, positive thinking, dental health, financial health, and social responsibility. 

Photo Courtesy of Shape Up US

One of the Hip Hop program’s modules – Plant Power! – focuses completely on the benefits of plant-based nutrition for kids. It provides core information that may help students and others in their homes to sort through the abundance of information that is circulating and better understand their options. The curriculum helps fight the myth that a plant-based diet doesn’t provide enough protein for a child’s developmental needs.

Guess what? The culture change doesn’t stop at the child. Shape Up’s curriculum helps build a culture of heath at home and in the community, as well. Kids help drive the change at home. Clearly, adults need it, too. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight. Almost 62 million American adults are affected by cardiovascular disease. Diabetes is the 5th deadliest disease in America. 

The goal is to develop a circle of plant-based wellness that flows from teacher to student, to the family and the community, and a culture of health that works for a lifetime. 

Shape Up Us is also driving culture change with other media. See the latest Shape Up Us video below and check out the new cookbook, Think Outside The Lunchbox: 250 Plant Nutritious Recipes That Whole Family Will Love.

Jyl Steinback is the Executive Director of Shape Up Us, Creator of the Hip Hop Healthy Hearth Program for Children™ and CLAP4HEALTH℠ newest cookbook, “Think Outside the Lunchbox” and Walking Program “Eat-Right-Move-More”.

Steinback, who has worked in the health and wellness industry for more than 35 years as a personal trainer, educator, and lifestyle guru has sold more than 2 million books that educate consumers to change their lifestyle by making positive choices through proper nutrition, exercise, and healthy living. She has been a spokesperson teaching health and wellness throughout the country. Jyl is passionate about “Building A Healthier Future for Children”. Her passion is to change the face of education, as we know it today by bringing a “Healthy Wellness” Curriculum into every school and homeschool starting in kindergarten – 6th grade.

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