Kids love superheroes way more than they love vegetables. That’s why Tanner Health System’s Get Healthy, Live Well initiative is enlisting a troupe of caped crusaders to help sell healthy eating to kids.
When a mad scientist named Dr. FunKill tries to steal a little girl’s fun by feeding her evil doughnuts, he is thwarted by three vegetable heroes. Broccoli Boy, Captain Carrot and Rude-A-Bay-Girl come to the rescue, teaching Emma to protect herself by eating a rainbow (five portions of colorful fruits and veggies a day).
“Eating a rainbow is an important message to get out to kids,” Tanner Dietician Christina Schoerner said. “We’re in the middle of an obesity epidemic. Today, about 1 in 3 of our children and teens are obese. For the first time, our kids are expected to live shorter lives than their parents and we’ve got to do something about that.”
It doesn’t help that kids are bombarded with commercials on TV advertising junk food.
“Just watch kids’ programming and look at the advertisements being shown there,” Amy Riedesel, director of community health at Tanner, said. “Those food manufacturers use very specific methods to sell empty-calorie foods to our kids — colors, cartoons, music. It is our intention to use those same methods to sell nutritious food to our kids. If they develop these good habits as children, there’s a better chance they’ll retain them throughout their lives.”
To get this message out, Get Healthy, Live Well reached out to west Georgia writers and artists who used their gifts to craft infotainment that would be attractive to kids. Mimi Gentry wrote the play and designed the costumes.
“It’s a little silly, a little sassy, a little scary,” Gentry said. “I think it will be a great vehicle for Tanner’s ‘healthy eating’ messaging.”
Tanner is offering the play as a free resource to schools all over west Georgia, along with an album of original songs like “Eat Fruits and Veggies, We Don’t Mind” and “Read It Before You Eat It.” All the original music was recorded locally at Southside Studios. Jim “Poppy” Boyd, a Grammy Award-nominated children’s songwriter who lives in Carrollton, joined the creative team to write the songs.
“Music is a great way to teach,” Boyd said. “By creating a series of catchy melodies and hook phrases, we’ll get the kids to have fun and maybe even remember to eat a rainbow.”
The cast includes Carrollton business owner Ginna Blair, local musician Mark Lyle and Samantha Cotton, who is a University of West Georgia student majoring in music. The play also benefited from the talents of local artists Gerald Byrd and Angela Lewis.
Although it appears to be whimsical, this play is serious business. It’s part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Partnerships in Community Health (PICH) grant that Tanner received.
“This is a three-year, $2.6 million dollar grant to work within Carroll, Haralson and Heard counties to focus on building collaborations through partnerships and policies to improve health,” Riedesel said. “Working with these local artists has been a fun and — we hope — effective way to teach these children about nutrition. Every mind that we can open, every kid that we can turn on to good food, that’s a victory for us. Ultimately, the futures of our children are at stake.”
To book a free performance of “Eat a Rainbow” at your school, contact Get Healthy, Live Well at 770.812.9871.
Tanner Health System Press Release