Students to Become Health Ambassadors

Ten Things Every Child Should Know by the Age of 10
Posted on 10/02/2017

During the next ten weeks, first and second graders in Rio Rancho elementary schools will become “health ambassadors,” learning healthy behaviors that they can take home to share with their families and friends. 

10 X 10 health lesson - keep cleanThe 10x10 My Health Booklet is a colorful, interactive, easy-to-use guide to basic health behaviors for elementary school children.  The booklet and its accompanying lessons teach students in an age-appropriate way, “10 Things Every Child Should by the Age of 10.”  Activities and resources for kids fill half the booklet; the other half is a Parent Guide to local health resources throughout the county, many of them free or low cost. There are suggested activities for parents and children to share together; the messages apply to all ages. 

The booklet's sponsor is the Sandoval Health Collaborative, a group of local educators, care providers (including the Sandoval Health Council) and community leaders seeking to improve health outcomes in Sandoval County. Teachers, parents, school administrators, a pediatrician, nurses, nutritionists and food service advisors helped create the content.

10 X 10 Dr. Wondra with students10x10 debuted in the spring of 2017 as a pilot program in a few classrooms county-wide. Rio Rancho Public Schools has been an early and strong supporter of this initiative, which was rolled out in first grade classrooms this year and is being expanded to include second grade this year.  This year’s 10 X 10 program will reach more than 3,000 students, their families and friends throughout Sandoval County. The goal is to ultimately include age-appropriate booklets in all 1st through 5th grade classes by 2020.  In addition, Rio Rancho Parks and Recreation, public libraries, local governments, and hospitals, and youth sports programs are incorporating 10x10 into their existing programs where appropriate --reinforcing the culture of health.

Sandoval County ranks #2 in New Mexico for health outcomes, just behind #1 Los Alamos County. While we can applaud that ranking, recent county health assessments raise concerns of rising childhood and adult obesity and substance abuse. Chronic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, are often the consequence of poor nutrition, physical inactivity and frequently, lack of access to affordable care and nutritious food. 

10 X 10 students running at MLKThe project already is attracting national attention. 10x10 is now a finalist in the national Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge, sponsored by the American Public Health Association, Aetna Foundation and National Association of Counties. Top prize, to be awarded next fall, is a $500,000 grant. That would sponsor 10x10 and promote better health outcomes here for many years to come.

For teachers, it's a fun way to engage kids' interest in their own health.  For adults, we hope it becomes a handy, resource-rich booklet that helps families practice and share healthy behaviors daily. For all, 10x10 is a fun way to feel better and save money by reducing preventable chronic health conditions.