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Just Breathe

How many times have you heard that over the years? When anger, frustration, and sadness seem to overwhelm and rage takes over it’s hard to remember to breathe. Sometimes all it takes is learning to use a tool to calm you down and get your breathing back to normal.

Children are especially able to learn to control their negative thoughts and emotions though repeated healthy and mindful activities and that was the genesis of the idea for healthy tool kits.

The Healthy Tools for Healthy Tots project was created after the 2016 Wildfire and aimed to outfit 50 local and rural childcare settings including daycares, day homes, and schools with a large tote packed full of tools to teach and share healthy eating, active living, and positive well-being techniques to the children. Through donations to the Northern Lights Health Foundation, AHS Public Health was able to launch a comprehensive program that is paying off in more ways than imagined.

Creating the tool kits was just the beginning. Throughout 2018 Public Health staff delivered education on the use of the tools to childcare workers throughout the region, including those in Fort McKay, Anzac, Conklin/Janvier and Fort Chipewyan. The increased awareness of the connection between healthy eating, physical activity and positive mental health and child behaviours was eye opening for many caregivers and now informs their care practices.

Most recently, the Early Childhood Intervention and Health Promotion staff participated in Family Organized Play with the Fort McMurray Catholic School Board. Family Organized Play sessions are meant to engage the whole family in play and organized activities so the Health team utilized the Healthy Tools kits for some engaging physical activities and mindfulness activities for 29 families. What a great way to share family fun and create lasting good memories.

The tool kits have an assortment of ‘toys’ with associated activities that explore feelings, empathy, self-control, teamwork, breathing, foods, and physical activity. The most popular tool is the glitter bottle! The activity of the glitter suspended in a thick medium is mesmerizing. It captures light and energy and motion and as the glitter settles it calms and settles your brain and breathing, reducing rage and anxiety.

Check out this great video to see how glitter bottles work on changing the activity of the brain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg

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