Lt Gov announces SMART Schools Challenge to use less energy, promote health

This just in:

Montana’s Lt. Gov. Angela McLean, who worked as a teacher for two decades, today announced a new challenge to the state’s public schools.

Here’s the deets:

It’s no secret that Montana schools are doing amazing and innovative things. Students today have opportunities to earn college credit in high school, get hands on career training in college and gain valuable skills in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields in elementary and middle school. Through these efforts, students are achieving and succeeding in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

For 20 years, I had a front row seat to these exciting and inspirational student successes. And in my new position as Lieutenant Governor, I want to make sure schools have all of the tools and resources to expand on the good work they’re already doing. It’s with that in mind that this week I’ll be kicking off my SMART Schools Challenges. Through this effort, we’ll challenge Montana schools to use less energy and promote student health. It’s pretty simple, if we use less energy and promote student health, we will save schools money that can be used on classroom instruction.

The reality is that schools in the U.S. spend more than $6 billion a year on energy. Many cite their energy bill as being the largest yearly expense. While we know this, we also know that implementing simple behavioral and operational measures to be smart about energy consumption can shave up to 30 percent off of a school’s yearly energy bill. When we save money on energy use, we shore up money for other things schools need, like computers and technology upgrades.

Over the coming days, I’ll be traveling to communities across the state to highlight some of the work that is already being done as part of these challenges. In many schools, students are leading the way on conservation and health promotion.

We’ll make sure to let you know when I’m in your community, but in the meantime, go to to learn more about the challenges, and steps schools can take to save money and promote student health.

Lt. Gov. Angela McLean

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Five Montana elementary schools attending ‘Veggie U’

Sustainable agriculture, healthy food choices, hands-on science.

It all adds up to “Veggie U,” which I learned yesterday is making its foray into fourth-grade classrooms in Arlee, the Gallatin Gateway, Helena, Lakeside and Wilsall. Students in the five-week program learn about growing food while tending their own gardens.

Read on for the full press release:

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Governor Bullock, Sesame Street and healthy habits

How did I miss this?

A 45-second video of Montana’s own Governor Steve Bullock talking about healthy habits with Sesame Street’s Abby and Rosita?

Yes, please!


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Missoula health expert knows how to keep kids safe during holidays

A Health column in yesterday’s Missoulian by Community Medical Center’s women’s and children’s services director Kim McKearnan included a list of ways for those of us with children underfoot to keep them safe during the holidays. It also provided a link to more safety information and checklists via

Here’s a condensed run-down of McKearnan’s list. Check out the column itself for the full version.

• Ensure that all electrical cords are in good condition and out of walking paths around your home (including not placing them under rugs).

• Be mindful of hot drinks.

• Candles should be kept a minimum of 3 feet away from anything that can burn, monitored at all times and out of reach of children and pets. Battery-powered candles can be a safe alternative.

• Hosting a house full of guests can lead to decreased supervision of children. Have adult guests take turns watching children, hire a trusted baby-sitter during holiday parties and make safe play rules clear to the children in your home.

• Exercise caution when cooking holiday meals. Keep children a safe distance from the oven at all times and take time to teach them kitchen safety.

• Provide a designated spot for your guests to stow potentially unsafe items.

• Carefully read the labels of the toys and gifts you purchase for children before wrapping them to be sure that they are age-appropriate and safe. When giving an older sibling a gift that could be harmful to their younger sibling (for example, small parts that a younger child could choke on), be sure to remind the child to keep the toy in a place that is out of reach for their little brother or sister.

• Dress your children warmly head to toe. It is strongly recommended that children wear helmets when sledding, snowmobiling, skiing or snowboarding to prevent head injuries resulting from falls. Adult supervision is also recommended.

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Texts keep preggos, new moms stocked up on useful health info

I could’ve sworn I had an email a while back – was it last week? last month? – urging me to check out this free text messaging service geared toward new moms.

The service offers to send pregnant women and moms “timely health and safety tips by text message.”

But I can’t find the email. Or maybe I read about text4baby somewhere else? See, when you’re a mom and you have a lot going on it’s easy to …

um …

easy to …

what was I saying?

Oh yeah. This service is called text4baby and you can sign up by texting the word BABY to 511411. Or, go to the website:

When you do, you’ll get a short form to fill out. Once you’re signed up, expect to get about three texts a week during pregnancy and up until your baby is a year old. The texts are timed to coincide with your due date, so they should be relevant. You won’t be getting information on feeding your baby solids when you’re only six months into your pregnancy, for example.

The service is made possible by: the nonprofit National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. It was created in collaboration with Founding Sponsor Johnson & Johnson, and founding partners VoxivaThe Wireless Foundation, and Grey Healthcare Group (a WPP company).

According to the website: “The messages address topics such as labor signs and symptoms, prenatal care, urgent alerts, developmental milestones, immunizations, nutrition, birth defect prevention, safe sleep, safety, and more. Text STOP to discontinue messages or HELP for help at any time.” You can also text BEBE to get the texts in Spanish.

Oh geeze. Now I remember where I first read about this.

Anyway, the service was launched nationwide on Feb. 4, 2010 and has four goals, according to the website:

1.    Demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology to address a critical national health priority: maternal and child health.
2.    Demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology to reach underserved populations with critical health information.
3.    Develop a base of evidence on the efficacy of mobile health interventions.
4.    Catalyze new models for public-private partnerships in the area of mobile health.

I think it’s got some potential. Pregnant women and new moms are inundated with a lot of information at a time when, let’s face it, we aren’t in the best position to absorb it all, let alone retrieve it as needed. These texts could help with that.

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An especially active ‘Learning on the Go’ tip

Here’s the latest parenting tip from the Healthy Start Council’s Susan Barmeyer. These are put together using funding from the Montana Children’s Trust Fund Board and the Parental Information & Resource Center Program of the Office of Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education.

Learning on the Go:

Active Fun

Sometimes it seems as though the easiest way to keep kids occupied is to turn on the TV.  But children log a staggering 28-32 hours every day in front of some sort of screen.  With obesity on the rise in the early years, children need to be more active.  Here are a couple of ideas to promote active fun at your house:

  • Make a tub of active toys that are appropriate for your children’s age that they can access at any time.  It could include balls of all varieties, Frisbees, hula hoops, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, paintbrushes (for painting with water), etc.
  • Teach your children outdoor activities, such as hide and seek, obstacle courses, hopscotch, leap frog, and follow the leader.
  • Plan a scavenger hunt by making a list of things for your children to find outside:  a rock, twig, clover leaf, pine cone, etc.  For the littlest ones, you can draw pictures.  You can also hide a few small treasures as well, such as marbles, old keys, or polished rocks.

Your children will have so much fun they won’t even miss the TV.  And there is one more reason to give your children lots of opportunities to be active – it helps their brains!

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Moms can Run Wild next Friday – then get a pedicure

The Run Wild Missoula Running Clinic for Women is not just for moms, but sure sounds mom-friendly. Its invitation even includes a special mention that the clinic takes place during “mom hours” – 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Friday, Sept. 23.

Here’s the invite:

Are work, family and life responsibilities cutting into your running or walking time? Do you need a day of running, relaxation and friends? Renew your running and renew yourself at the Run Wild Missoula Running Clinic for Women. The day (during “mom” hours) includes lunch, a group run in Blue Mountain Wilderness Area, running clinic led by Olympian Courtney Babcock and use of PEAK Health & Wellness, including sauna, hot tub, pool, indoor track and exercise machines. Optional spa services such as massages, pedicures, manicures and facials will also available.

The cost for the Friday clinic only at PEAK Health & Wellness Center is $60.

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Missoula parents should be aware of asbestos exposure

Following is a guest post by Krista Peterson, a recent college graduate from the University of Central Florida, health and safety advocate, and aspiring writer. She tells me she enjoys writing “to help encourage others to live the healthiest and most eco-friendly lifestyles possible.”

Although she does not live in Missoula, this piece is geared specifically toward Missoula parents:
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Shaken Baby Syndrome topic of Great Falls conference

The two-day Family and Community Heath Conference put on by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services starts today in Great Falls, and is bringing in a national expert to talk about how to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome.

This is the syndrome that results when an infant is severely or repeatedly shaken. It can cause serious and permanent damage to a baby’s eyes and brain. And it’s a form of child abuse.

The national expert who will be speaking this afternoon in Great Falls is Julie Price, of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, and the title of her talk is “The Period of PURPLE Crying.”

Here’s a little more background on Price:

Price, of Utah, has 19 years in education, training and program management. In addition to her work with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, Price oversees Utah’s Period of PURPLE Crying® hospital-based program. She assists hospital administrators, education personnel and maternity services with nurse training and coordination of the Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention and parent education program.

And here’s a little bit more about the PURPLE Crying program:

The Period of PURPLE Crying® is the phrase used to describe the point in a baby’s life when he or she cries more than at any other time. This period of increased crying is often described as “colic”, but there have been many misunderstandings about what “colic” really is.

The acronym PURPLE is used to describe specific characteristics of an infant’s crying during this phase. The word PERIOD is important because it lets parents know that it is temporary and will come to an end.

P: Peak of crying. A baby may cry more each week. The most at 2 months, then less at 3-5 months.
U: Unexpected. Crying can come and go and there is no clear reason why.
R: Resists soothing. A baby may not stop crying no matter what a parent does.
P: Pain-like face. A crying that may look like the baby is in pain, even when he/ she is not.
L: Long lasting. Crying which lasts as long as five hours or more a day.
E: Evening. A baby may cry more in the late afternoon or evening.

“It may be confusing and concerning to be told a baby ‘has colic’ because it may sound like the baby has an illness or a condition that is abnormal,” says Ann Buss of the DPHHS Family and Community Health Bureau. “Parents and caregivers need to know that what they are experiencing is indeed normal and, although frustrating, is simply a phase in their child’s development that will pass.”

This is important, says DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell, because, “The concept of the Period of Purple Crying is a new way to help parents understand this time in their baby’s life, which is a normal part of every infant’s development. DPHHS is committed to bringing this valuable information to Montanans.”

Here’s more about the presentation:

This presentation is part of an overall DPHHS effort being led by the Montana’s Children Trust Fund of DPHHS to educate families of babies born in Montana about Shaken Baby Syndrome and Abusive Head Trauma. Recently, the MTCTF distributed 45,000 ‘Crying Cards’ to parents of newborns though hospitals, family and pediatric practices, child care facilities, and groups that offer babysitting classes.


Healthy Kids Day aims to strengthen family health

The YMCA in Missoula is celebrating Healthy Kids Day this Saturday with free activities from 9 a.m. to noon.

As described in an article in today’s Health section of the Missoulian, the YMCA seeks to build on five “Pillars of a Healthy Family Home.” These pillars are: eat healthy, play every day, get together, go outside, and sleep well.

I guess three outa five ain’t bad. My family totally rocks the eating healthy, getting together and going outside pillars. But playing every day? Sleeping well? Not so much. There’s always so much work to be done, and so little time to do it all.

Kara McCarthy, the community relations coordinator for Community Medical Center and the author of the article, advises families to “Have a different family member choose a 30-minute activity each night.” That sounds doable. Perhaps we’ll give it a try. And when it’s my turn to pick a family activity, I will try – TRY – not to choose cleaning the bathroom.

If you’re looking for inspiration too, go over to the YMCA (it’s located at 3000 S. Russell St.) this Saturday morning, and check out the possibilities offered by Mismo Gymnastics, Missoula Parks and Recreation, Kids Nutrition, the Missoula Maulers hockey team, Matz Family Chiropractic, Child Development Center, AmeriCorps Vista, Y Zumba, and the Missoula Kids Marathon. Word is that the Community Medical Center’s CareFlight helicopter will be there too.

If you’re looking for more information, check out the YMCA website,, or email Keri McHugh at

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