Rio Rancho students become health ambassadors through new initiative

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A new program is being implemented in elementary schools throughout one local district that’s turning kids into health ambassadors.

It’s called 10×10 or “10 Things Every Kid Should Know by the Age of 10.” It looks like this, an interactive and colorful booklet designed to give kids a guide for safe and healthy behavior.

“I like how it’s teaching others how to stay healthy and how to get strong,” said second-grader Oliver Gutierrez.

The 10×10 “My Health Booklet” debuted last spring as a pilot program in a few classrooms across Sandoval County. It’s now being used in Rio Rancho elementary schools.

Officials say it got such good feedback from parents that they decided to roll it out in all ten elementary schools this year.

Half of the booklet is for students to fill out. It includes lessons like how to eat well, track their movement, even learn how to get home safely, and what their emergency phone numbers are.

Jonathan Kirschman is just one of the teachers who is implementing this program in his classroom at Puesta del Sol Elementary.

He says the program is beneficial to his students for life. “I firmly believe that the decisions that they make and the habits that they develop here at such an early age are things that they’re going to be able to carry the rest of their life,” said Kirschman.

The other half is a parent’s guide to help them find healthy resources around town, many of which are free or low cost.

The program is expected to last 10 weeks but some teachers say they’ll continue teaching it throughout the whole school year.

Right now, the program is just in first and second grade classrooms.

“This is where kids really learn those healthy habits and are able to be proactive about taking charge of their healthy and safe lifestyle. It’s also an opportunity to help them work with their parents and families to really then work together as a family to live healthy lives,” said Bryan Garcia, Puesta del Sol Principal.

The goal is to have the program in all first through fifth-grade classes by 2020.

The program will also be implemented within Rio Rancho Parks and Recreation, public libraries, hospitals, and youth sports programs where appropriate.

The initiative comes from the Sandoval County Health Collaborative, who both sponsor the booklet.

Officials say the program is gaining national attention as well. It’s now a finalist in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge.

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