It starts with being intimidated by the unknown and moves to being encouragement by a staff member or volunteer. She decides to try healthier options, whether it’s drinking more water, playing a sport or eating better meals. Then, there’s the determination to try, followed by the huge grin of success and a much-needed increase in self-esteem. These reactions to healthy living are Nutrition and Fitness Coordinator Lindsay Garner’s motivation when working with our kiddos.
Lindsay is a certified personal trainer and a part-time staff at The Settlement Home. Lindsay says she loves seeing the girls find success after being intimidated by a new activity.
“Seeing them feel so proud of themselves and complete something they never thought they could do is my favorite thing,” she said. As the nutrition and fitness coordinator, Lindsay has a big job: encouraging fitness and healthy decision-making by our residents and staff. Here are the five focus areas she has in her job:
Lindsay focuses on finding partnerships to help our residents be active and join sports leagues. Check out these great partnerships we have:
- Run Club meets weekly on Wednesdays and monthly for a weekend 5K. Each kiddo runs with a Junior League partner who commits to run at a comfortable pace.
- A group of our kiddos go to the CrossFit Renew twice a week to work out with the gym’s trainers. Our girls enjoy working out at the gym and have seen their strength and resiliency increase.
- We have a YMCA Community Membership which allows Lindsay to take our residents to enjoy the pool and play indoor sports.
- Recently one of our residents who enjoys playing soccer was given a scholarship to join in a soccer team with the North Austin Soccer Association.
- Another resident participates in teen dance classes through Go! Dance where she is learning various partner dances including ballroom and country western.
- Lindsay was able to secure a sponsorship for one of our residents to run summer track through Central Texas Elite Track Team.
- We regularly partner with The University of Texas Rec Sports, which allows our kiddos to go canoeing, hiking and rock climbing. The Run Club also runs in the Longhorn Run 5K.
- Widener, the fine arts teacher at our on-campus UT Charter School started a dance team. She and Lindsay work with the girls to create their routines and practice. The Dance Team went to a competition last weekend against other dance teams in the area, and they received a trophy!
YUMMY, FRESH FOOD
Lindsay also shops for snacks and food to keep at the cottages. Her emphasis is on more fruits and vegetables and less salty snacks and chips. We feel better when we eat healthy foods. Having a variety of healthy options readily available helps residents try new foods and make smart decisions about what foods they eat.
Lindsay also works one-on-one with some of our kiddos who need support feeling regulated. She might take them for a walk on the track or play basketball with them. This approach allows each kiddo a chance to ask questions about healthy living and set their own nutritional and fitness goals with Lindsay.
We all know that encouraging kids to drink plenty of water is not always easy. That challenge is no different for our staff. Lindsay works to give hydration education, provide water bottles that they girls enjoy keeping with them, and modeling the behavior of drinking plenty of water. She lets them know how essential drinking water is to their muscle efficiency, balancing their mood, body temperature control, increasing their memory function and having better immune health.
It is important for our staff to model healthy decision making for our kids, so Lindsay does nutritional trainings for our staff that encourages them to try new things, support smart habits when eating out, remind our kiddos to drink plenty of water, and prepare dinners that will leave our girls feeling full and healthy. They also make sure that kiddos are eating appropriately sized portions at meal time.
Lindsay says that it is important for our kids to make connections with the people who are encouraging them. Our kids mimic the behavior they see in adults that they have an emotional connection with. Recently a member of the Moody Cottage staff joined Run Club and since then, most of the residents at Moody Cottage have stared attending Run Club regularly. Attitudes are infections, and when our staff are motivated and excited to make healthy decisions, our kids are, too.
Playing team sports and getting involved in recreation in the community allows our kiddos to develop safe, healthy relationships with adults; it gives them the opportunity to make friends their age outside of just those at The Settlement Home; and helps to boost their self-esteem because they know they are making healthy life choices.