An Ultimate Mom Volunteer
You might say Allison Stewart is a mom on a mission. She wants kids to have healthy schools and homes. That’s why the married mother of two elementary school kids devotes several hours each week making sure Denver area teachers and parents know how to create healthy environments for kids.
At any point during the school year, Stewart, a member of the Action for Healthy Kids Colorado team, can be found doing anything from leading kids through a series of physical activity lessons and nutrition exercises to holding in-school healthy food taste tests. That’s quite a commitment for a woman who found her way to the organization more by chance than plan.
“My daughter came home from school one day and said, ‘Mommy, I got Thin Mints today for doing my work,’ Stewart recalls. “I thought to myself, ‘Why is my daughter getting rewarded with cookies for doing what she’s expected to do?’ So I started searching the internet and found Action for Healthy Kids based on my ‘non-food rewards’ search.”
AFHK Shows Stewart the Way
From the start, Stewart says she liked all of the resources AFHK makes available to help parents who want to do something about school wellness, but don’t know how and was impressed by the breadth and depth of organizations with which AFHK partners to make schools healthier places for kids. So, she registered right away and within weeks was a full-fledged AFHK volunteer on the Colorado team.
That was in 2009. Since then, Stewart has immersed herself in projects like creating a Girl Scout Wellness Workshop, which taught 50 girls and their parents how to spot unhealthy ingredients on food labels and how to choose healthy options, to participating in the Colorado AFHK Leadership Team by helping to evaluate local accomplishments and set future goals. For Stewart, her efforts are not just about combatting childhood obesity. It’s also important to her to teach kids how to be healthy.
“Allison is usually the first to donate her time to our projects and to move our parent initiatives forward; And, she uses and promotes our tools and resources whenever she has an opportunity,” explains Carol Muller, State Director – Colorado. “She’s dedicated, generous with her time and expertise and she really knows how to get the job done. I wish we had 100 Allisons on our team!”
Stewart Empowers Denver to Get in the Action
In fact, the AFHK staff has found Stewart so committed to school wellness that in 2011 she was asked to serve as a part-time project manager for the Colorado team’s Get in the Actioninitiatives for four Denver-area schools. It was a task she took on with her usual gusto. Working with the schools’ staffs and school district, Stewart designed Get in the Action projects that fit within each school’s wellness goals and environment and reached some 1,500 kids and their families.
Volunteers introduced students to fun-filled brain breaks of physical activity, fruit and vegetable taste tests and wellness fairs. And they left each school with J-A-M (Just-a-Minute) Fitness, an in-classroom physical activity program.
“I loved working with the AFHK volunteers and the school wellness teams. Everyone was so passionate and committed to educating their school and their community on ways to fight this epidemic of childhood obesity and inactivity,” Stewart says, adding she’s still thrilled to be an AFHK volunteer. “AFHK is the preeminent organization in this field of volunteers fighting childhood obesity. I continue to find new information and resources on the AFHK Web site and through other volunteers. As a parent who didn’t know quite where to start and who wasn’t in the “political know” about policy and regulations, AFHK provided a good balance for me. And the organization continues to improve on its research-based offerings and programs, which reinvigorate parents to keep up the fight.”