1
Promoting Healthy Technology Use for Youth
2
We Are Sweet Enough
3
Five Easy Minutes
4
Making Connections for Mental Health
5
Summer Blueberry Cake
6
Movement for Mental Health
7
Healthy Summer Habits
8
Stop The Bleed
9
Stretch It Out!
10
Summer Kids Gardening and Eating Adventures

Promoting Healthy Technology Use for Youth

By: Jessica Bickford

As kids across the region head back to school, the role of and attention they give to their electronic devices often increases. As parents and educators, this often leaves us struggling to monitor and keep up, wondering,

  • What types of apps are being used?
  • How much time is ok?
  • How do we monitor it?
  • Does technology impact sleep and learning?
  • Technology can be a great tool… how do we balance heathy use?
  • What’s FOMO and Finstagram?
  • Will technology impact learning?
  • Can technology increase substance abuse?
  • Will technology impact mental health and emotional development?
  • And more…

In this post I’d like to share a few highlights from Michael Nerney’s* May 2019 presentation, “Don’t Hit Send: The Impact of Social Media on Brain Development,” that will help to answer some of parents’ questions and take a deeper look about how we engage with our youth around technology. These presentations were hosted by Healthy Lamoille Valley at Green Mountain Technology and Career Center and Craftsbury Academy.

If you would like to watch the presentation, I have included a GMATV link at the end of this post. Plan an hour and a half or break it up in chunks; there is valuable information throughout!

Why are devices attractive?

We know that they (youth) are not addicted to their device or they’d never get a new device, but they upgrade their devices all the time… it is clear, through the research…that they are emotionally dependent upon the immediacy of the connection to their peers and others.”

– Michael Nerney

Michael explored why the youth brain becomes wired to social media. In short, “Likes” create the chemical dopamine, a positive reward in the adolescent brain. At a certain point, the brain reaches a saturation threshold and it begins to require more activity to get the same “positive” dopamine reward feelings.

Plus, youth are impacted by their peers. Technology provides the opportunity for immediate peer feedback.

Youth need risk for positive development, and they perceive technology as an area of “safe” risk.

Practical tips for monitoring youth technology usage:

1.  Delay accounts/technology. Wait until your child is developmentally ready before introducing new technology.

2.  When preparing to give your child a phone or electronic device, create a contract for legitimate and valid purposes of having the device. Don’t just give phone over and say, “I hope nothing bad happens…” When you are 13, you don’t get to erase what you see. This website shares helpful examples. http://www.theonlinemom.com/

3. Set expectations that parents have all passwords and that students do not share this information with others, no matter how close the friendship/relationship may seem. (“Don’t fall for the ‘If you love me, you’ll show me by sharing your password’ trap”.)

4. Monitor, monitor, monitor. Set phones, devices, and accounts up so they can be monitored or shut off remotely.

5. Check in often about social media use. Look at the phones with your kids. “Show me what this app does.” Talk about manipulation techniques used online. 

6. Keep devices out of bedrooms and place a charging station in a family area, where devices go at a set time in the evening. Sleep is crucial and the light from the screen impacts melatonin production. Sleep cleans our brains and gets us ready for learning new information the next day. Kids who text after 10 o’clock are often getting 5-6 hours of sleep vs. the 9 hours they need. They are missing at least one whole complete cycle of sleep.

7. Know the abbreviations. (For example, ASL = Age, Sex, Location.)  Here’s a list: https://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp.

8. Limit time on devices. The more they play with or use technology, the more likely it is to impact sleep patterns, learning, and mental health.  Research shows having a phone next to you can turn 2.5 hours of homework into a 5.5 hour project; it can take 7-9 minutes to reflect, respond, and refocus after each text.    

9. Model positive device and technology use. As parents and caregivers, we set the tone and expectations by what we do.

10. Remember, not everything needs to be digitized. The act of physically writing increases memory and academic performance.

These tips are not limited to phones. Here are additional areas of digital dependence that can produce measurable changes:

  • Online gaming.
  • Digital pornography is changing lives and relationships.
  • Online gambling.
  • Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

We’d love to hear from you!  What has worked well in your home? Are there ideas that you’d like to try?

Resources

Here is a link to watch Michael’s complete presentation. (Start at about 3 minutes in.)

Here is a link to view Michael’s PowerPoint presentation:https://www.healthylamoillevalley.org/wp-content/uploads/DON%E2%80%99T-HIT-SEND-Presention-Michael-Nerney.pdf

The book American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Girls by Nancy Jo Sales explores the impacts of sexting.

The Online Mom website provides knowledge, advice, and tools to help “parents protect their kids and encourage responsible behavior as they make the most of the new digital world.” http://www.theonlinemom.com/

* Michael Nerney is a consultant in Substance Abuse Prevention and Education, with over twenty-six years’ experience in the field. He is the former Director of the Training Institute of Narcotic and Drug Research, Inc. Previous to the Director position, Mr. Nerney held a position as a training specialist for NDRI. His particular areas of expertise include Psychopharmacology, Adolescent Chemical Dependency, and Managing Violent Incidents.


Jessica Bickford works as a Coordinator of Healthy Lamoille Valley, where she has enjoyed writing for their blog. Writing for Copley’s community blog is a natural extension of this experience! Healthy Lamoille Valley focuses on making healthy choices easy choices, realizing that when we have access to healthy options we are less likely to choose behaviors that are harmful. Prevention is really a lifestyle of wise choices that enable us to live life to the fullest.

We Are Sweet Enough

By: Cole Pearson

healthy drinks for kids

As children return to school, nutrition can be an important contributor to them enjoying a successful, healthy school year. Many children enjoy sugar-sweetened beverages, but aren’t our children already sweet enough?

Are we talking about soda?

Yes, but soda is not the only type of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed by kids and adults. Sugar-sweetened beverages are any liquids that are sweetened with various forms of added sugars like brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, and more. Liquid sugar, found in sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks, is the leading source of added sugar in the American diet, representing 36% of the added sugar we consume. We know from the research that 6 in 10 youth and 5 in 10 adults drink a sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day, far exceeding their daily recommended maximum added sugar consumption (6 teaspoons max for kids and women and 9 teaspoons for men).

What is the concern about sugar-sweetened beverage consumption?

We know that drinking just one 12-oz. can of soda per day can increase your risk of dying from heart disease by nearly one-third. Additionally, people who drink one to two sugar-sweetened beverages per day have a 26% higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared to people who drink less than one per month. Sugary drinks give the body a blast of sugar and produce triglycerides (aka fat globules). Some of those fat globules get stored in the liver, while others will go into the blood stream, lining the arteries and putting you at risk for heart attack.

Why focus on sugar-sweetened beverages instead of sugary foods?

Although too much sugar in any form is not recommended, sugar-sweetened beverages have particular concerns. An important issue regarding sugar-sweetened beverages is the fact that it is very easy to consume way too much. Studies also show that when we drink sugar-sweetened beverages, we don’t feel as full as we would if we had eaten the same number of calories. So it’s easy to down nine teaspoons (38 grams) of sugar in a single soda – about twice as many as in an apple – and hardly notice.

Fruit juice is good for kids, right?

Although fruit juice is often perceived as healthy, it really is not a good substitute for fresh fruit. That’s because fruit juice often contains more sugar and calories than the fruit itself. In recent years, healthcare professionals have begun to advise against juice for children under age one because of its connection to rising obesity rates and concerns about dental health. We now know that fruit juice offers no nutritional benefit to children under age one and should not be included in their diet.

There are lots of swap ideas that can help reduce sugar in your beverages and RiseVT will be launching the “Sweet Enough” campaign in September to give you lots of swap ideas!  For example, it can make a big difference to swap your kid’s sports drinks for water in a cool water bottle they like, or serve seltzer with a splash of juice as a soda substitute. With six teaspoons as the max added sugar your kid should have in one day, it’s easy to max that out in one beverage—so these swap ideas can add up to make big impacts in health and wellbeing.

So remember, for a healthier, happier life, try limiting sugar-sweetened beverages. After all, our families are already sweet enough!


Five Easy Minutes

By: Daniel Regan

I have a simple suggestion that could enhance the quality of your life. It may give you a sense of inner peace and could even, in the long run, prolong your life.

Give yourself the gift of five extra minutes. I don’t mean extra minutes to stay in bed or on your phone; rather, a five-minute cushion (10-15 is even better) before your next appointment, commitment, or task.

Try it. It might lower your blood pressure and change your life. 

Did anyone watch the NBA playoffs in June? Those who did, commentators and casual fans alike, could not help but note series MVP Kawhi Leonard’s unhurried style of play and approach to the game. He seemed always to anticipate and be prepared for what came next. In the midst of a highly stressful activity and setting, he nevertheless appeared—well—at peace.

It doesn’t take his extraordinary skills and preparation to glean an important message for the rest of us, as we live our everyday lives: try to move through life quickly and purposefully, but not frantically. Doing so will enhance tranquility and heighten your ability to focus.

I am realistic. Some will scoff at this simple suggestion, reject it, conclude their lives are too complicated for five extra minutes. (And if truth be told, some don’t care about making good, time wise, on their commitments; but that’s another story.) Why are some of us addicted to stress? It’s more than just an individual refusal to deprive ourselves of anything—even a proven danger like stress to our health and wellbeing.

Ours is a nation developed upon stress. It’s not just the current demands of our fast paced technological era. Much earlier in our nation’s history, the industrial era kept workers on edge so they would work hard and produce. That philosophy may have helped grow the economy, but it did not necessarily contribute to our psychological health. Stress may produce sweat, but not necessarily the best work, much less satisfaction or happiness.

So give yourself five extra minutes—to complete that required task, meet that person, show up at an appointment, pick someone up, etc. Not permitting yourself that cushion can have negative consequences. One morning I tested and verified that assertion: Had I backed out of my driveway in a rush, and skimped on looking behind me, I might have struck the little girl from next door or crashed into the car that suddenly made a U-turn and came up the road behind me. Or I might have turned left too soon, onto a busy thoroughfare, which would have added to the long list of accidents by impatient motorists. And that was only in the first five minutes after my departure from home.

So save your reaction to stress for those situations that truly require it. Meanwhile, do yourself a favor and take a few extra minutes. Doing so might even prolong your life, which would make a whole lot of time cushions very worthwhile.


Dan Regan, a sociologist, is the former dean of academic affairs at Johnson State College and continues to work part-time for Northern Vermont University.

Making Connections for Mental Health

By: Julie Bomengen

A client reported to me in session recently that something “just felt different” over her weekend. What she was ultimately able to identify is that she felt like she and her kids were becoming a part of her community. We spent time in session discussing what community means and why it matters. According to Sorab Asora, community means “empathy, inclusion and belonging, a sense of purpose, cultural understanding and exchange of ideas.” This sense of connection or belonging is what helps people thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally, which is why it is another critical Pillar for Mental Health.

According to Martin Seligman – a leading psychologist and founder of “Positive Psychology” – regardless of where you find your community, becoming a part of one is a major factor in being happy and balanced. Seligman asserts that community helps to foster the characteristics (positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments) that produce healthy and happy members of society.

Indeed, involvement in a supportive and caring community and having positive personal and intimate relationships that are enduring, loving, and reliable is essential to experiencing true connection – something that humans desire and arguably need on the deepest of levels. While my personal bias is to encourage these connections to be in real-time and in-person, I have learned that quality connections that are being made online have similar positive impacts. Still, my hope is that those individuals who are spending a significant amount of time connecting online also have opportunities for meaningful, face-to-face interactions on a regular basis. There is much being written stating that online relationships are not a direct substitute for the human contact that we all benefit from. Regardless of where the connections occur, the kindness and care that comes from another human being — someone to witness our suffering, validate our stories and experiences, and to simply matter to someone despite our imperfections — can make all the difference in terms of an individual’s mental and emotional well-being.

From a Psychology Today article entitled, “On Belonging”:

“recent neuroscience studies have revealed that the brain uses similar circuits to deal with our social pleasures and pains as with our more tangible delights and woes. For instance, the brain’s reward system has been shown to respond as strongly to social rewards (e.g. social recognition) as it does to money. On the other hand, when social ties come undone and connections are severed, the resulting social injuries may not only become sources of copious ill-effects, but may also affect our brains in similar ways as physical injuries would. Thus, as some neuroscientists have suggested, human beings could be wired to feel pain when we are bereft of social connection, just as evolution has wired us to feel pain when we are deprived of our basic needs (e.g. food, water, and shelter).”

What you can do today!

  • Make a goal to do something with another person in your life at least one time/week. Enjoy a walk and talk or peddle your bike, meet at a cafe for food and drink, visit an art gallery together, see some local community theater, go for a drive, wade in a river, or go for a swim in a lake. Anything goes, as long as it’s done on a regular basis, with another person you feel you can trust and be yourself with.
  • Take a chance and reach out to someone you like, but haven’t spent much time with. Extend yourself and approach the idea of connection, working to deepen the relationship, knowing how it can feed your spirit and boost your mood.
  • Look for ways to become involved in your community, thinking about ways to match your interests with the needs of your specific community. There are an infinite number of areas for engagement. For example, if you’d like to help out with seniors, think about serving on the board of “Meals on Wheels” or volunteering at the Senior Center. If that’s not your preferred population, talk with your local school’s volunteer coordinator to find out whether you can help with their mentoring, after school, or school garden programs. There are opportunities at the North Central Vermont Recovery Center, libraries, second hand clothing stores, your local food cooperative (MOCO), local farms, community food shelf, and more!
  • Think about taking a class in your community. There are endless opportunities to get involved and learn something new – no matter your age! Check out events and activities being offered at such places as Morrisville’s River Arts, Community College of Vermont, Green Mountain Technology Center, Northern Vermont University, UVM’s Adult Learning, music classes with local musicians and educators, pottery, art, or photography classes with some of Lamoille County’s amazing artists.
  • If you are certain that the relationships in your life aren’t serving you and you need to change them up or possibly end them, think about reaching out to a local counselor for support. Talking with someone can truly make the difference between remaining in and suffering in dysfunctional relationships and finding the will and agency to make the changes that can support your overall health (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) and happiness.

The experiences that come with direct, face-to-face relationships are meaningful in ways that can’t always be quantified. The research is there, no doubt, but more importantly, is the intuitive sense we all have that when we are in a flow with and connected with others, we feel better. We feel we belong and that we matter. In all of my work, with everyone I’ve ever worked with, this is a universal desire and one that is indeed worth pursuing.

References:

Sorab Asora – No Stigmas “Community Engagement and Positive Mental Health” May 2017

Seligman, M.E.P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Sydney: Random House.

Pogosyan, Marianna, Psychology Today, “On Belonging” April 2017.

Resources to Further your Education and Information:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-cultures/201704/belonging

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rethinking-mental-health/201603/gregg-levoy-meaningful-work

https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2016-05-27-mental-illness-on-meaningful-work-and-recovery

https://nostigmas.org/learn/community-engagement-and-positive-mental-health

Raz, G. (Producer). (June 10, 2016) Becoming Wise (Audio Podcast) https://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/481290551/becoming-wise

Summer Blueberry Cake

By: Deb Nevil

Fresh summer produce from The Last Resort Farm at Richmond Farmers Market, Vermont

As I write, we are half way through summer. I don’t know about you, but after the extended winter, I am grateful for the bounties that abound. Currently, we are in the midst of blueberry and peach season. Yes, that’s right, local blueberries and peaches! These photos are from The Last Resort Farm. I vend right next to them at Richmond Farmers Market. As such, I spend a lot of time outdoors at farmers’ markets, festivals, and local community events, which allows me to support local farmers and eat as much in season as possible.

Luckily, I live in beautiful Lamoille County, so even if I choose to pick my own blueberries, there are several locations close to my home. As a mom, an educator, and farmers market coordinator,  I love to share my passion for healthy food.

We just concluded our 6-week summer school program where we planted and tended a garden. We went strawberry and blueberry picking, and we baked pies, muffins, and blueberry cake. Smoothies were also a big hit with local yogurt and the fresh fruit we gathered.

I grew up in a family where everyone loved to cook. My Auntie Del cooked for the Rockefeller family in Bar Harbor, Maine. I used to spend time with her and my mom cooking, baking, and pickling. My Auntie Ethel, whom I named “Auntie Cuckoo” (she gifted me a cuckoo clock from Germany when I was just about 3 years old), was also an excellent cook.

Blueberries at Wandering Roots, Cambridge, VT

Fortunately, I have many of their recipes and I’d like to share “Auntie Cuckoo’s” blueberry cake with you. Being a lover of local food and delicious baked goods, I have tried many blueberry cakes, but this is, hands down, my favorite. I hope you get a chance to try it! Remember, blueberries freeze well, so you can pick or purchase now and enjoy them for months to come. Here are some photos of our blueberry bounty, and of course, Auntie Cuckoo’s Blueberry Cake Recipe. Enjoy it and the rest of this glorious season!

Auntie Cuckoo’s Blueberry Cake

Blueberries at Wandering Roots, Cambridge, VT

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
  • 2 eggs yolks and 2 egg whites, separated.
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. blueberries

Instructions:

  • Sift flour, baking powder, and salt 3 times in medium-sized bowl.
  • In another bowl, cream sugar and vegetable shortening.
  • Add the beaten egg yolks to the creamed mixture. 
  • Alternately add the flour mixture and milk until fully incorporated.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Fold in beaten egg whites.
  • Lightly flour blueberries, then fold them into mixture.
  • Pour into a 9×9 greased and floured pan. 
  • Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

A mother of 4 with a M.Ed., Deb oversees the after school and summer Enrichment program as the 21st Center for Learning Coordinator at Cambridge Elementary School. Deb understands the importance of a healthy, educated, and engaged community to raise positive and productive children. She is a Vermont Farmers’ Market Advisory (VTFMA) Board Member, Brand Ambassador for Kingdom Creamery of VT and coordinates the JFAM Mtn. Jam Music Series in Jeffersonville in July-August. Deb lives in Cambridge with her family, and babies: her dogs and cats.

Movement for Mental Health

By: Julie Bomengen

“Get some exercise!” — I know you hear it all the time, but bear with me because while most people understand that exercise is good for the body, fewer of us think about the connections between movement and mental health. We are going to dive into why movement is a pillar for mental health and how being active on a daily basis supports optimal brain health, as well as emotional and mental well-being.

As hunters and gatherers, our ancestors moved to survive. Every day for the majority of each day, they sprinted, jogged, climbed, carried, and jumped intermittently, walking an average of 6 miles and running ½ to 1 mile each day. Needless to say, our human bodies were designed to move! Fast forward to today and research reveals that the typical U.S. adult is sedentary for 60% of their life and sits for six to seven hours per day.  Clearly, there is a mismatch between what we are designed to do and what we are doing, and this disconnect is having major implications for our physical health as well as our emotional and mental wellbeing.

So why does movement help mental health?

  • Moving our bodies is the simplest way to improve mood due to the endorphins and mood-boosting chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, that are released when we are active and engaged in something that is pleasurable. When we engage in regular, consistent activity, our brain’s dopamine receptors are sensitized which enhances the reward and pleasure experience. Movement becomes more and more rewarding and beneficial over time. Keep at it!
  • Symptoms of anxiety and depression have been found to decline when these same mood-boosting chemicals are released.
  • Stress can be reduced when we are active due to the increase in concentration of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that can modulate the brain’s response to stress.
  • Improved brainpower and memory enhancement results when we move our bodies because new brain cells are created through a process called neurogenesis. Workouts increase a brain protein called Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which promotes the survival of neurons, thereby facilitating such things as decision-making, higher levels of thinking. and learning processes.
  • There’s something to be said for the feeling of confidence that comes with and after participating in something physical that challenges us.  Even when it’s hard or doesn’t yield the desired effect right off, there is the opportunity to feel strong, capable, motivated, and proud of what you did or what you are in the process of doing. By moving your body in any way, you are saying that you matter and have value — that is something that translates into self-love and confidence. Keep at it!! Today, tomorrow, and the day after that — just keep moving.
  • While you’re moving, move on out to the great outdoors! Research tells us that the extra Vitamin D that comes from the sunshine (even when it’s cloudy, we are getting some degree of Vitamin D), fresh air, and being among the healing elements of nature add to the overall mental health benefits of moving our bodies outside. Pick one outside activity to try out this week. How about a walk on the Rail-Trail?  Also, much has been written about the idea of “nature deficit disorder” in our population, particularly among children. Get your kids outside moving with you – you’ll be shaping lifelong behaviors that will serve you in profound and deeply meaningful ways.
  • Moving our bodies helps us relax more which, in turn, can support a healthy circadian rhythm which improves sleep, which in turn, makes us feel better, mentally and emotionally. See how all of this is inter-connected?! Check out my earlier post if you need a reminder of why sleep is also a pillar of mental health.
  • Engaging in some form of physical movement on a regular basis helps improve productivity and creativity.  Research is revealing that working for 45 minutes and then taking a 15 minute break and getting up and moving our bodies provides us with a burst of energy that improves productivity and brain functioning while also improving mood.
  • Moving our bodies can be even more beneficial when we move with others as we often feel more inspired and supported, and less alone when we are engaging in an activity with a friend or joining a group of people who are working towards a common goal. As one idea, how about contacting the Green Mountain Club and joining in one of their scheduled walks/hikes? Bring a friend along or make a new friend in the process.
  • People who are struggling with addictions of any kind benefit from having positive, healthy substitute behaviors to engage in. Our brains release dopamine – the reward chemical – when we are engaging in things that are pleasurable. Exercise can produce this pleasurable state, thereby offering the potential of being that substitute behavior for people who struggle with addiction. Also, movement reduces depressive symptoms and stress, which improves mood and has been shown to help diminish cravings for drugs and alcohol.

As you can see, physical movement is essential for positive mental health outcomes. Think about the activities you enjoyed as a kid – roller skating, swimming, dancing, hula hooping, playing basketball, rowing a boat, jumping rope, hiking through the woods, or walking along a stream. Find something you love and do it. Do it slowly at first, with a friend at times, alone with your thoughts at other times. Pick up the pace next time and feel your breath move through your body. Look around while you’re moving outside and find gratitude for the beauty of this community we live in. Breathe fully and deeply and find love and compassion for yourself, knowing that any movement or activity you engage in supports your body, your mind, and your emotional well-being. 

Resources to Further your Education and Information:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-simply-moving-benefits-your-mental-health-201603289350

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-works-and-why/201803/how-your-mental-health-reaps-the-benefits-exercise

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/people-in-nature/200901/no-more-nature-deficit-disorder


Julie Bomengen is a Vermont Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) with 22 years of experience in the field of mental health. Julie is also a Nutritional Therapy Consultant (NTC), a certification of the Nutritional Therapy Association. She lives, works and plays in Lamoille County.

Healthy Summer Habits

By: Caleb Magoon

This year, it seems like we went straight from winter to summer in Vermont with only the briefest stop in spring. Now that we have a little nice weather it’s time to go out and enjoy it. That said, let’s all remember that we are pasty white Vermonters built to last a long winter and need to take necessary precautions when venturing out into the bright, beautiful sun.

One thing we do exceptionally well here is to adapt to the weather. 50 degrees in the spring feels tropical and we break out the shorts. But in October, it feels quite cool comparatively. This is essential for our survival, but when we seem to skip spring like we did this year, it’s essential we allow ourselves time to adapt to the hot weather.

Many of us don’t drink enough water and stay hydrated. I am guilty of it myself. We should always be well hydrated, but when the sun comes out the consequences of not keeping up with it become dire. We don’t have air conditioning in many places so adapting to the heat and humidity and the need to up our water intake can be tough. But it’s important to be proactive about drinking much more water right now than you think necessary. Remember, coffee, soda, and alcohol won’t cut it! If you’re thirsty, you have already gone too long without drinking water.

As I mentioned before, we are as pasty as just about anyone this time of year. I am continually reminded of that every time I look at my 17-month-old boy. We call him ‘Casper the friendly baby’ and it’s not far from the truth. Sadly, Vermont is near the top of the list for skin cancer in America. That’s not something to be proud of. Making sure we throw on some sunscreen, a hat, and stay in the shade when we can is essential to surviving that bright orb in the sky that comes around this time of year.

Lastly, monitor the weather and plan accordingly. Don’t overdo it. We simply don’t have the same stamina and ability to perform fitness functions in the heat. When it gets hot, dial back your plans a bit.

The key message here is to let your body adapt to the weather. This time of year, we need to work a little harder and be a little more vigilant to remember those simple, yet important, habits.

Stay after it! You don’t want to miss a second of the sun.


Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.

Stop The Bleed

By: Valerie Valcour

Have you heard the phrase “Stop the Bleed” before? You may have heard it during the month of May as it was National Trauma Awareness Month. Did you know that the person sitting or standing next to you could save your life? One of the most preventable deaths after injury is uncontrolled bleeding. Everyone should be able to recognize life-threatening bleeding, and everyone should be able to take appropriate steps to control bleeding until help arrives. The greater the number of people who know how to control bleeding in an injured person, the greater the chances of survival from that injury.

Stop the Bleed trainings are intended to help people learn how to respond to life-threatening bleeding and ways to stop the bleeding.

Once a month, Copley Hospital Wellness Center, the Morristown Emergency Medical Services (MEMS), and the Lamoille Valley Medical Reserve Corp offer FREE Stop the Bleed classes. Classes and registration are posted on the MEMS Facebook page. They are planned for the first Thursday of each month, one class from 1-2 PM and one from 6-7 PM. Due to the holiday, the July class is scheduled for Wednesday July 10th, at the same times.

The Stop the Bleed classes are located at 539 Washington Highway (Morristown Rescue). Please let us know you will attend by emailing cboisvert@morristownvt.org or phone (802) 888-5628.


Valerie Valcour is a Public Health Nurse and specializes in chronic disease prevention and emergency preparedness at the community level for the Department of Health in Morrisville. Valerie has lived in Lamoille County most of her life. She graduated from People’s Academy in 1983 and worked as a nurse at Copley Hospital for several years. In addition to her work, she volunteers as a board member of both Community Health Services of Lamoille Valley and the Lamoille County Planning Commission.

Stretch It Out!

By: Emily Neilsen

For as long as I’ve exercised, I’ve had some inkling that stretching played a role in physical fitness. Flexibility was measured in the Presidential Fitness Tests administered every year in elementary school and gym teachers and coaches diligently included a few stretches during warm-ups. But the message I always took away was that stretching was an afterthought – good to do, but much less important (and more boring!) then cardiovascular and strength-building exercise.

Photo of the author practicing yoga in her third trimester.

I took this perspective with me into the yoga studio when I first began attending classes. I loved the challenging flows and strengthening poses instructors guided us through. But as things wound down toward the end of class and slower stretches were introduced, I returned to my old thinking. “This is boring and not all that important.” It’s a bit surprising, I suppose, that I would later become a yoga instructor with a deep appreciation for the benefits of stretching. In fact, I now truly enjoy doing them.

Why the change? Adopting a regular yoga practice provided me an experiential understanding of the benefits. Quite simply, I felt markedly better in my body whether I was in motion or at rest. I came to appreciate the feeling of slowing down, focusing on my breath, and noticing my body becoming more flexible. Beyond these positive feelings, the benefits of stretching are wide-ranging. Stretching improves range of motion, enables muscles to work more effectively, decreases the risk of injury, and can greatly improve athletic performance. And, as we age, flexibility becomes essential as it improves mobility and independence. In fact, stretching is now considered as important as cardiovascular and strength-building exercise.

The good news is, you don’t have to devote your life to becoming a yoga instructor to enjoy the benefits of stretching. If time is a concern, try 10-15 minutes of stretching a few times a week or pick a couple of days a week to practice a form of exercise, such as yoga or pilates, that incorporates stretching.

If you’re stretching on your own, there are a few things to remember:

  1. Stretching is not a warm-up: Stretching cold muscles can cause injury.  Stretch after at least 10 minutes of light to moderate exercise.
  2. Be aware of pain: stretching can be uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t be painful. Stop stretching or take a less intense stretch if you notice pain, especially in your joints.
  3. Get some guidance: It’s worth knowing which muscles to stretch and how. Take a class, borrow a book, or do some research online.
  4. Be patient: The benefits of stretching are cumulative and you may not notice a huge shift right away. Over time though, your muscles will become more flexible, efficient and healthy, and you will likely notice an improvement in your joints.

For more information, visit https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931.


Emily Neilsen is a mother and educator, who loves asking big questions, digging in the soil, swimming in natural bodies of water, and playing outdoors. She is a 500-hour and Prenatal certified yoga instructor. Emily currently plans arts & cultural events and reading initiatives, and works with first-year students at Northern Vermont University-Johnson. She cares deeply about health and believes mental health, movement, and diet play essential roles in wellness. Emily lives with her husband and 2-year-old, as well as a husky and a calico cat in Hyde Park, VT.

Summer Kids Gardening and Eating Adventures

By: Julie Swank

Warm summer days have finally arrived in Northern Vermont and it’s been a fun family project to get our garden started for the year. My son has been lugging buckets of water to his favorite plants and helping plant seeds…everywhere. If you’ve spent any time with a toddler, you know that you can’t always plan where the plants and holes end up in your garden, but the time spent exploring and learning about plants is endlessly worth any of the garden “surprises” that happen along the way.

After many years of teaching in the garden and on the farm, I’m convinced kids will eat almost anything if they get a chance to grow it themselves. Even a bold-flavored radish can be enticing when picked glowing and colorful from the ground yourself. This vegetable devouring transformation doesn’t always happen overnight. Something happens organically (pardon the pun) as time passes in the garden and kids watch these amazing living things turn sunlight, water, and soil into something they can eat and enjoy. Spending time tucking a seed into the earth, waiting for the sprout to grow, to watching the kale grow up and unfurl curly leaves – who says plants aren’t magic?

Connecting food through stories and books is another way to inspire healthful food adventures. My son and I have been enjoying a book about a father and son making a pizza with ingredients they harvest in their garden. It still amazes me how even pre-literate kids can remember so many details from books. If that story involves characters eating a new tasty crunchy vegetable, all the better!   

Theme gardens or beds are a great way to connect the dots for little ones to understand how food grows from the ground. If you haven’t planted your garden yet, consider popping in some starts or seeds that you can cook together later into a tasty treat with your little helpers.  Then read a story in the shade on a warm day after all that hard work – what could be better? Here are my favorite pairings for garden plantings based around meals and some stories to go along!

Stir fry bed: Pac choi, carrots, broccoli, napa cabbage, peas, and beans. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin. Don’t let the title fool you, this is a veggie-positive story!

Salsa bed: Tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, and cilantro. Add a jalapeño pepper plant to the mix if you have really brave kiddos – they’re one of the mildest chiles.
Green is a Chile Pepper, by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Salad bed: Lettuces, green mixes, radishes, edible flowers (calendula, nasturtium, viola, pansies, Bachelor’s button).
Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole or Up in the Garden Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner (a Vermont author!) have beautiful pictures and descriptions of the cycle of a garden through the seasons.

Pizza garden – Tomatoes, peppers, basil, onions. If you can find wheat seeds, plant a row or strip for the “crust.”
Pizza Day by Melissa Iwai

Check out your local library or bookstore to find these books. Happy summer gardening, reading, and eating!


Julie Swank is a farmer, a school garden and nutrition educator, and most recently a mom, which has put all of her skills to the test to keep her busy two-year-old healthy and fed. She loves to connect people to their food by sharing advice from the kitchen and getting hands in the soil on the farm.  You can find her in the kitchen cooking meals for her son’s preschool, Four Seasons of Early Learning, and tending gardens in Greensboro, VT.