HealthyTown-Everywhere™ Teaches Michigan Kids To Make Healthy Choices

Keller Elementary students warm up with the YMCA.

HealthyTown-Everywhere™ (HTE) is a Physician-led health program promoting better nutrition, fitness and healthy behaviors and lifestyles within local communities.  One particular project of HTE focuses on teaching elementary school students how to make healthy choices at an early age through a guided grocery store tour.

Over the six weeks leading up to the tour, a student from the Coordinated Dietetics program at Wayne State University visits an elementary school for a couple hours every week to teach fifth graders from the Royal Oak School District the basics of nutrition.  Students learn about dietary fiber, protein, sugar and more in order to get a baseline understanding of what to look for on nutrition labels and how to pack a healthy lunch.

On the morning of the tour, the students, parents and teacher gather in the parking lot of Holiday Market and get moving with a quick warm up led by the local YMCA. Students then make their way inside to meet the dietetics student they’ve been learning from over the past six weeks. This time, Coordinated Dietetics student Danielle Blunk led the tour for the class she’d been working with at Keller Elementary.

Coordinated Dietetics student Danielle Blunk talks nutrition with 5th grader.

As the tour makes its way through the produce, dairy, meat, fish, and snack sections, Blunk teaches students about different types of food and quizzes them on how to choose healthy options based on nutrition. Students try samples of food products such as fruit, cheese, almond milk, and quinoa which have been generously provided by the Holiday Market. The final activity is a scavenger hunt where students are broken up into teams and must test their knowledge by solving riddles and navigating their way through the grocery store to find the correct food items. After final comments from the dietetics student and a physician, the kids head back to school to discuss what they’ve learned.

HealthyTown-Everywhere™ was founded by Paul R. Ehrmann, D.O., a preventative health and wellness advocate and medical director of the Family Health Care Center of Royal Oak for more than 35 years.

“Being at a family practice, I’ve always worked with families to help them make positive choices,” said Ehrmann. “As physicians, it’s our responsibility to support the communities we serve.”

Dr. Ehrmann and Danielle Blunk answer student questions.

Dr. Ehrmann hopes to see this project spread throughout Michigan, particularly in underserved areas which often require the most support in battling obesity.  The program as a whole is expanding to meet the needs of the communities statewide. Grocery store tours are available to adults as well, and there are future projects being planned to incorporate the national “Walk with a Doc” program into the guided tour.

HealthyTown-Everywhere™ is currently looking to recruit additional health care professionals and grocery store owners to participate and customize the program to their own local community. More information about the program is available on the HealthyTown-Everywhere™ Facebook and YouTube pages.

HealthyTown-Everywhere is a collaborative project supported by the Family Health Care Center, the Wayne State Coordinated Dietetics Program at Wayne State University, the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Holiday Market, the Oakland County Health Department, the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce, and the Royal Oak School District.