http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgRachel Ottley, Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy occupational therapist, stands in the sensory gym at Greenhouse in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The room is one of four used to help stimulate children with developmental disorders such as autism and teach them how to socially interact and communicate. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Rachel Ottley, Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy occupational therapist, stands in the sensory gym at Greenhouse in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The room is one of four used to help stimulate children with developmental disorders such as autism and teach them how to socially interact and communicate. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Therapy improves autism effects in children

Rice falls through a sensory tool at Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Sensory tools and techniques are used at Greenhouse to help improve communication and interaction among children with developmental disorders. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Cherokee Nation citizen Nathan Hicks holds his son, Braden, while his daughter, Lilly, sits between him and his wife, Elizabeth. Lilly was diagnosed with autism when she was 18 months old. However, thanks to therapy, she attends a regular third grade class and is not in any therapy. COURTESY
Rice falls through a sensory tool at Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Sensory tools and techniques are used at Greenhouse to help improve communication and interaction among children with developmental disorders. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
02/05/2018 12:00 PM
BROKEN ARROW – Autism is a neural developmental disorder identified by social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication challenges. In the United States one child in 68 is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. In Oklahoma that rate increases to one in 52 children.

Symptoms are more noticeable in children as young as 18 months. “You can see it through sensory issues and social communication issues and some motor stuff as well, how kids use their bodies,” Rachel Ottley, Greenhouse Pediatric Therapy occupational therapist, said.

Prime ages for diagnoses are between 2 and 3 years old. Signs include difficulty sleeping, picky eating, being held and the types of food eaten. Babies with autism display no social interaction such as smiling at someone and can get extremely focused on an object or attached to things like a blanket, toy or cup.

Cherokee Nation citizen Nathan Hicks said his daughter, Lilly, was diagnosed with autism at nearly 2 years. He said when she was 1 she didn’t meet certain milestones, and symptoms became more noticeable. At 18 months, Nathan and his wife told their pediatrician that Lilly was different. A psychiatrist confirmed Lilly’s diagnosis after several visits.

Nathan said one indicator was she wasn’t communicating the way an 18-month-old should. Rather she stared at the ground or floor making repetitive noises. “One of the markers that she wasn’t doing was she wouldn’t cross midline. By that, if something was sitting off to the right, she would use her right hand but she wouldn’t reach over with her left hand to get it. It was very divisional. Right hand got the right side things, left hand got the left side things.”

He said Lilly was attached to one pair of shoes and black stretchy pants. Noises also affected her. A vacuum cleaner whirring or static-type noises soothed her, while ambulance or fire truck sirens upset her.

Ottley said other indicators include when the touch sensory system is affected, meaning a child may not like to be hugged, held, bathed or have his/her skin rubbed, while others love to be held tight and bounced around.

Nathan said he and wife also worked through digestive issues with Lilly after noticing she had a hard time digesting food containing gluten and casein proteins.

“A lot of autistic people, they have digestive issues. There’s a nerve that runs from your stomach to the brain that reacts differently in a lot of people with autism, and they’re sensitive to a lot of different kinds of food. Gluten intolerance is pretty common and the casein is like a man-made glue that they put in a lot of milk products to keep them together,” he said.

He said once Lilly’s diet became gluten- and casein-free, she became less irritable.

Lilly is diagnosed on the spectrum as high functioning. Meaning though she has autistic symptoms, she still functions well in every day life.

“The spectrum means that some people appear more severely impacted than others. But it’s a little bit of a misnomer really because you can be quite severely affected by autism but still have a job and a marriage and a relationship and kids and all those things and still be really quite autistic,” Ottley said.

There is no known cause for autism. Ottley said it is a mystery, though there is a genetic component. Most likely the genetic contributions of the mother and father could present autism in the child. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed, meaning girls present differently and are often diagnosed later. Ottley said race or ethnicity is not a factor as it’s “all across the board,” and there are under-diagnosed children in minority groups.

Nathan said after Lilly’s diagnosis, she began occupational and speech therapy. The therapists she saw used the DIRFloortime model, which stands for Development, Individual Differences and Relationships. It’s designed to create interaction between the child and those around them.

“You get down on their level, literally on the floor. You see whatever sparks their interest. You make that your world. You see what you can make up that interesting about it to get them to go back and forth with you,” Nathan said. “A lot of it was just kind of some tough love, too.”

For example, if Lilly sat on a swing, Nathan would hold it until she said go. It taught her to say words to communicate. Other techniques like board games or throwing a piece of paper back and forth were used to stimulate interaction.

Ottley, who worked with Lilly, said as a therapist she looks at the child’s daily life from playing, sleeping, eating and getting dressed to determine how to make those tasks easier. “If we could make stuff like that easier, then the family gets to love each other more and be with each more instead of just managing behavior and trying to figure how to keep this kid calm.”

Using the DIRFloortime model takes into account the individual differences in children in terms of speech, language, their sensory system and what they enjoy most. Ottley said they build a child’s development around those things.

Lilly endured occupational therapy until first grade and speech therapy until second grade. Now, at age 9, she attends a regular third grade class and is not in any therapy. Nathan said he is thankful for the therapists who helped his daughter.

“You look at life a little differently when you’re living through it,” he said.
About the Author
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing in journalism. She started working for the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016.
Working for the Cherokee Phoenix, Lindsey hopes to gain as much knowledge as she can about Cherokee culture and people. She is a full-blood Cherokee and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band.
Her favorite activities are playing stickball and pitching horseshoes. She is a member of the Nighthawks Stickball team in Tahlequah and enjoys performing stickball demonstrations in various communities. She is also a member of the Oklahoma Horseshoe Pitchers Association and competes in sanctioned tournaments throughout the state.
Previously a member of the Native American Journalists Association, she has won three NAJA awards and hopes to continue as a member with the Cherokee Phoenix. • 918-772-4223
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing in journalism. She started working for the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016. Working for the Cherokee Phoenix, Lindsey hopes to gain as much knowledge as she can about Cherokee culture and people. She is a full-blood Cherokee and a citizen of the United Keetoowah Band. Her favorite activities are playing stickball and pitching horseshoes. She is a member of the Nighthawks Stickball team in Tahlequah and enjoys performing stickball demonstrations in various communities. She is also a member of the Oklahoma Horseshoe Pitchers Association and competes in sanctioned tournaments throughout the state. Previously a member of the Native American Journalists Association, she has won three NAJA awards and hopes to continue as a member with the Cherokee Phoenix.


Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/09/2018 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Making meal alterations such as using less salt or taking it out completely can lead to a healthier life for most people. Even making simple changes to old favorites such as mashed potatoes can lead people down a healthier path. Mark Keeley, a clinical dietitian and 34-year Cherokee Nation employee, said while working with Native Americans he’s stressed that salt doesn’t need to be added to food and could adversely affect a person’s health. “Salt will retain fluid on your body…that fluid is going to take up lung space. So now you’re trying to breathe around lungs that are trying to fill up,” he said. “If your heart’s not able to pump as well as it used to then the slower your blood stream moves the more some of that salty water will leak off into your ankles and legs, and so now you’re carrying weight around and it kind of waterlogs your system.” Keeley said he’s had people tell him that they salt their food even before tasting it. “People have told me, ‘Here’s what I used to do. I use to salt food before I even tasted it and salt it heavy and then taste it.’ Then they say, ‘I don’t do salt anymore.’ I come across a lot more people that tell me that. Those folks are becoming more common, but there’s room for work,” he said. For people who monitor their blood sugar levels, Keeley said he recommends mashed cauliflower potatoes. “As a dietitian that’s been working around diabetes for a long time, people want food to taste good, but they don’t want it to blow their blood sugar out of the water, so the cauliflower is basically a…non-starchy, low-carbohydrate vegetable,” he said. By combining the cauliflower and potatoes, Keeley said a healthier version of mashed potatoes is created. “It actually has…a slightly different flavor. So cooking them up together and mashing them together, a little butter in there for seasoning and…it’s still satisfying, still has potatoes in it, but it doesn’t have the effect after the meal that you don’t like seeing.” Keeley said the dish typically takes 30 minutes to make, which includes preparation and cook time, and consists of a head of cauliflower, two potatoes and a small portion of salted butter. The butter acts as the dish’s only form of salt. “It’s not a high time investment meal,” he said. “You do need enough water to pretty near cover the vegetables. It’ll get them soft quicker, ready for the mashing. You could drain it completely or just leave a small amount of water in the bottom. The butter was salted butter. It was the salt (for the recipe) in this case. There was no other salt in it.” When changing a recipe such as adding cauliflower and removing a bulk of the potatoes, Keeley said the first step is to “decide” if this is something that people want to pursue for a healthier lifestyle. “The tricks of the trade is one thing, but the first step is to decide. To make the decision, ‘I’m going to do what it takes to get better and stay better,’” he said. “Once people are determined they’ll figure it out. They’ll come up with their own ways to do it.” Keeley suggests another way to get on a healthier eating track is portion control. “One thing we can always do is we can down portion anything. So if something is pretty stout, pretty sweet, pretty salty, you can eat less of it.” For more information on meal alterations, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a> <strong>Recipe for turkey stew or minestrone soup</strong> <strong>Ingredients:</strong> 2 pounds of ground dark turkey meat 3 cloves of crushed and minced garlic 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning 3 carrots, thinly sliced 1 large chopped onion 1 small head of chopped cabbage 2 14-ounce cans dies tomatoes 1 14-ounce can of kidney beans 1 14-ounce can of great northern beans 1 32-35 ounce container of chicken broth <strong>Directions:</strong> 1. Brown meat in a heavy pot on high heat, stirring constantly 2. Add garlic, Italian seasoning, carrots and onions. Stir until vegetables start to soften 3. Add tomatoes, beans and broth 4. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes 5. Serve Cherokee Nation clinical dietitian Mark Keeley suggests when adding the canned products it’s best to drain them to reduce the amount of salt in the meal.
02/08/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQAH – Exercise is important, but for senior citizens physical activity is crucial in living healthier and longer lives. Dr. Jana Jordan, of Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital, said exercising is the “most important thing for seniors to do to stay young.” With frequent exercise, seniors can delay, improve and even prevent diseases and conditions that come with age such as diabetes, stroke, heart and kidney disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cancers. “Exercising improves cardiovascular health, so that lowers cholesterol. So in turn that prevents heart attack and stroke. It makes the heart stronger, so that goes along with helping high blood pressure. Almost any condition they may have like heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes is going to be improved by exercising,” Jordan said. Muscle mass also plays a part in senior health. It declines with age, resulting in loss of balance and bone strength, which can lead to injury. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of death and injury among seniors. Jordan said exercising is essential to building muscle mass, which can allow seniors mobility and independence. “When those muscles start to decline you can’t get out like you use to. And the less you do means the less you’re able to do. So the people that are staying active can keep going and that keeps them healthy.” In addition to the physical benefits, seniors can improve their mental health with exercise. “I have patients that retire and they sit at home and don’t get out. Then their health starts to go bad, and they start to get depressed. So besides all the cardiovascular benefits and helping of the lungs and kidneys, it really helps their mental health. Exercise increases endorphins in the brain that makes them feel better, and when they feel good they become motivated to do more,” Jordan said. She added that the exercise she recommends to seniors is walking. “You don’t have to go to the gym. You don’t have to go running, and you don’t have to go kayaking to be active, just walk. Anything weight baring is going to be the best exercise for seniors. Walking is weight bearing and doing some kind of strength training is all weight bearing, so it improves bone density and also conditions like osteoporosis.” However, for handicap seniors or those with limited walking ability, Jordan recommends arm exercises or leg exercises. “If they can lift their legs up and down you can put a sack with some cans in it and move your legs up and down if they can’t walk. If they do that and it helps them improves their muscular strength there’s a possibility they may be able to get up and walk at some point in time.” For seniors who enjoy attending a gym or fitness classes, the CN Male Seminary Recreational Center in Tahlequah provides a senior stretch and exercise class. It focuses on balance, stability, range of motion and functional movements tailored to acts of daily life. Heather Dobbins, a MSRC physical activity specialist who teaches the class, said she’s seen how exercise positively impacts seniors and their physical abilities. “I have seen a major improvement in chair squats, which is being able to get up and down from the chair without having to use their lap or the chair to get up and use just the strength in their legs. So everyone started out having to use their lap to get up and now they are able to do chair squats without their hands. That’s what my goal is for them to remain or be independent without needing assistance from a walker, for instance, and I am seeing that progress being made.” The National Health Service recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. However, Jordan recommends doing what is bearable, especially if beginning. “Everybody’s health is different, and they’re all at a different place. So start small and add in increments of how long you are doing that so each time they go out and exercise they are improving their ability to exercise. They’re improving their heart and lung function. They’re improving their muscular function so they can do a little bit more each time,” she said. Although exercise is beneficial, Jordan said it’s best to consult a physician, especially if experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath. However, Jordan said some exercise is better than none. “Staying active is really, really important, and even if they’re not exercising they need to be getting out and socializing. Maybe they’re getting out and going to church. Maybe they’re going down to the senior citizens (center)…They’re getting some exercise, and they’re getting some socialization,” she said.
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
02/07/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – A mammogram aids in the detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women. A specialized imaging, it uses a low-dose X-ray system to see inside breasts. The X-rays make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can find micro-calcifications (calcium deposits) that can indicate breast cancer. Mammograms can also check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign is found. This mammogram is called a diagnostic mammogram. Besides a lump, cancer signs can include breast pain, thickening of the breast’s skin, nipple discharge or change in breast size or shape. However, these signs may also be benign conditions. A diagnostic mammogram can also be used to evaluate changes found in a screening mammogram or to view tissue when it is difficult to obtain a screening mammogram because of special circumstances such as the presence of breast implants. Retired nurse practitioner Vickie Love said women’s health was “a priority” when she worked at the Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell. “At the Mankiller clinic there where many people and departments committed to women’s health. The nurses, case managers and providers all reviewed charts to identify and remind patients if they where due for mammograms. The Cherokee Nation incorporated a system into our electronic health record that would flag a patient when they where due for cervical and breast exams,” Love, who retired in 2015 after 21 years, said. She said a frequent concern about mammograms is pain. During a mammography, a radiologic technologist positions the woman’s breast in the mammography unit. The breast is placed on a special platform and compressed with a clear plastic paddle, and the technologist gradually compresses the breast. “I was honest to tell them there was pressure involved that could be uncomfortable for just a few seconds and then released. Our mammogram technicians would ask if the women were OK or if they could withstand more compression. If not, the technician would not force more compression,” she said. “I did advise the more they could withstand for those few seconds would provide a better test for the radiologist to review.” Another frequent concern, she said, is the fear of finding cancer. “I advised the women that early detection was the key and treatment options where less radical if caught in the earlier stages. I discussed how important it was to have an initial mammogram and how the radiologist could compare future mammograms to this one and determine if there where new findings or if changes where being seen.” Early cancer detection with screening mammography means treatment can be started earlier, possibly before it spreads. Clinical trials and studies show that screening mammograms help reduce breast cancer deaths among women ages 40 to 74, especially for those over 50. However, studies haven’t shown a benefit from regular screening mammography in women under 40. To illustrate the importance of getting regular mammograms for women over 40, Love said she asked patients if they had a family member or friend who had breast cancer. “Often this was affirmed, and I would listen to their recount. I would inquire how the cancer affected the person and/or the family. I would talk about how the family members could be at a higher risk for breast cancer, how each woman needed to follow up and encourage their mothers, grandmothers, daughters and sisters to be vigilant about breast exams and mammograms,” she said. “As women we couldn’t be complacent about our health because future generations depended on us. I also reminded them I had their address in their chart, and I would come looking for them. Caring about each of them and humor were always my allies.” Love said she believes she was “successful” in getting women patients in for mammograms, but there was still a high overall “no-show rate.” “I think dispelling rumors and fears are important, but it takes time and effort to find what these are. I believe being a Native provider has also helped me establish rapport and trust with my patients. And I always tell stories about my own experience that coincides with what is being asked of them. Just being real helps,” she said.
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
02/07/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Stress can come in different forms and be caused by various events such as childhood trauma or everyday troubles. Chris Wofford, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health Services clinical supervisor, said in some cases stress from “past trauma” in young adults can present “similarly” to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or similar “disorders of attention.” “So they might have difficulty focusing, difficulty staying on task once they start things, difficulty feeling calm or rested. Usually impacts sleep and certainly impact their ability to feel comfortable in groups or around other people. So sometimes that leads to some isolation and stuff like that,” he said. For day-to-day stress, Wofford said it’s “a little more” identifiable. “Just regular stress you know day-to-day, ‘I’ve got this homework assignment or I’ve got this task for work that I have to complete.’ Kind of similar, but usually it’s a little more identifiable,” he said. Wofford said not treating stress could have negative effects on the body. “There is a lot of research that says your psychological stress is going to manifest physically so ulcers or hypertension or you know a lot of times stress can lead to smoking or using some substance to cope and then that leads to addiction issues. Poor work performance or poor school performance certainly is correlated with having a lot of stress or anxiety as well,” he said. Wofford said one of the “biggest” things is to “own” a feeling and not to shut them out. “If you have a feeling about something instead of trying to shut it away or pretend it’s not there to just acknowledge that you have that feeling,” he said. “Then if you’re having trouble dealing with that feeling that’s when you would talk to either natural supports like family or where you might seek out the help of a professional.” Regardless of where a young adult’s stress stems from, Wofford said it’s important to find “relaxation” activities. “One of the basic things we teach to pretty much all age ranges that get services here is breathing. Nice deep, relaxing controlled breathing is a way for the body to communicate to the mind to slow down,” he said. “So for kind of everyday stress…just having some time where you’re doing things that you enjoy. It’s really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine and quickly it can be overwhelming.” Wofford said both mental and physical health should be treated the same. “If you would go to the doctor for a broken leg it’s OK to go to the doctor for a broken thought,” he said. “Just get some help in repairing that thought or that thinking process and getting back on track and feeling like you normally do or like yourself again.” One important message Wofford wants to get across is that when it comes to experiencing stress-related issues people are “not alone.” “Many people have found a way through this and you will be able to as well. You’re not broken, you’re not crazy, you’re not anything except a person who’s experiencing life and has hit a bump,” he said. “We all have them, and we all deal with them in different ways, but it is absolutely OK to ask for help.” For more information, call The HERO Project at 918-772-4004 or the CN Behavioral Health Adult Clinic at 918-207-4977.
Reporter – @cp_bbennett
02/06/2018 12:30 PM
TAHLEQUAH – With misinformation about sex so accessible, talking openly with teens about sex can help prevent unintended pregnancies and decrease risks of sexually transmitted diseases. Barbara Williams, a Cherokee Nation certified prevention specialist, has taught pregnancy prevention for more than 20 years through programs such as “Date but Wait” and “Straight Talk.” Her mission is to help parents and children talk openly about sex to avoid misinformation, a sharp contrast to how she was raised. “My mother never talked to me about how to prevent pregnancy or anything like that, and I asked her why. She said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. I figured you would learn it from somewhere,’” Williams said. In 2015, Oklahoma’s teen pregnancy rate was 34.8 per 1,000 females, compared to the national average of 22.3, according to the State Department of Health. Within the CN, Adair County ranks significantly higher with an average between 55.2 and 67.4 pregnancies per 1,000. “I know there’s a problem with teen pregnancy, and I know it goes back to parents not talking to their kids about it, especially in our Indian families,” Williams said. “There are no (Cherokee) words for anything that has to do with sex. We need to make the tribe know there’s a problem, especially in our rural communities.” Oklahoma was second in the United States for teen births in 2014, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. The campaign also found that almost 50 percent of Oklahoma teen mothers live in poverty, while only 38 percent who have children before age 18 receive high school diplomas. For teens who aren’t comfortable talking to their parents about sex, Williams recommends they visit a county health department, which provides family planning information and birth control options including free condoms, pregnancy testing and emergency contraception. In addition to preventing teen pregnancy, Williams educates teens about sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. The Centers for Disease Control reports that annually 20 million new STD cases are reported in the United States, with half of them in individuals between 15 and 24 years old. While some STDs have symptoms such as itching or burning, several – including chlamydia and gonorrhea – often do not. Williams also cautions teens that some STDs do not have a cure and those that are treatable are becoming more dangerous. “There is now a drug-resistant gonorrhea, which we’ve always had a treatment for gonorrhea, and now it’s a superbug and there’s no guarantee,” she said. “We don’t know how long the medicine we have now is going to quell it. (Teens) need to know that you can’t tell by looking at someone if they have an STD. The best thing to do if you have sex is to wear a condom so you don’t have to worry.” To request a presentation from Williams, call 918-207-4977, ext. 7186. For more information about teen reproductive health and pregnancy, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. For confidential and free STD testing, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
02/06/2018 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH – Sleep is important. Exercise is important. A good balance of both promotes a healthier lifestyle for children and adults alike. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s website,, children aged 6 to 13 years old need nine to 11 hours of sleep per night. However, there are factors that can lead to difficulty falling asleep, thus reducing sleep time. These factors can also cause nightmares or disruptions in sleep. “School-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products – all of which can lead to difficulty falling asleep, nightmares and disruptions to their sleep. In particular, watching TV close to bedtime has been associated with bedtime resistance, difficulty falling asleep, anxiety around sleep and sleeping fewer hours,” the website states. It suggests parents should educate their children about healthy sleep habits that include: • Emphasizing the need for regular and consistent sleep schedule and bedtime routine, • Making a child’s bedroom conducive to sleep – dark, cool and quiet, • Keeping TVs and computers out of the bedroom, and • Avoiding caffeine. The website also states poor sleep habits and problems can lead to mental and behavioral problems. “Sleep problems and disorders are prevalent at this age. Poor or inadequate sleep can lead to mood swings, behavioral problems such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and cognitive problems that impact on their ability to learn in school.” Carol McCoy, Center for Therapeutic Interventions mental health counselor, said the mind is active during sleep and that activity is vital for a healthier mind. “Children need more sleep than you and me as adults because their minds are still developing,” she said. “The more sleep they get, the healthier the brain becomes which allows for them to stay alert during the day.” And the more a child is active during the day, the better sleep a child gets during the night. According to a study published in Medical News Today, exercise has a direct correlation when it comes to sleep patterns in children. The study states with every inactive hour during the day, it adds three minutes to the time it takes the child to fall asleep. The study also indicates children who fall asleep faster tend to sleep longer. This is where exercise and physical activity come in. Children should spend 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day. For children, this means playing on the playground, their back yard, in gym class or recess at school. It could also mean being part of organized sports or other physical activity classes. According to, there are benefits to children exercising, including having stronger muscles and bones, being less likely to become overweight, decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. The website also correlates the need for exercise to help with sleep. “Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better. They’re also better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test,” the website states. Limiting the time spent watching TV, on computers or tablets and other stationary activities is one of the best ways to keep children more active. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents “put limits on the time spent using media, which includes TV, social media, and video games. Media should not take the place of getting enough sleep and being active… Keep TVs, computers and video games out of the children’s bedrooms and turn off screens during mealtimes.” <strong>The National Sleep Foundation’s tips for healthy sleep</strong> • Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake-up time, even on the weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s clock and could help you fall asleep and stay asleep for the night. • Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep. • If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon. Power napping may help you get through the day, but if you find that you can’t fall asleep at bedtime, eliminating even short catnaps may help. • Exercise daily. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep. • Evaluate your room. Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees. Your bedroom should also be free from any noise that can disturb your sleep. Finally, your bedroom should be free from any light. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices. • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy – about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up <strong>Nourish Interactive’s list of “Get the Children Moving And Being Active” tips</strong> • Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. • Set aside time everyday for daily activity. Make it part of your family’s routine. • Share activity ideas with other parents. • Set a timer to remind kids to take an activity break away from the computer after 20 minutes. • To avoid muscle injury, teach your kids to stretch their muscles. • Children and teens need 1 hour of exercise each day to helps their growing bones, heart and overall health. • Have a picnic in the park. • Prioritize your To-Do list to schedule family exercise and plan ahead for healthy meals. • The heart’s a muscle too. Give it a workout. • Take the kids to your local high school this weekend and run relay races around the track. • All movement counts; Teach the kids to take the stairs instead of an elevator today. • Pump up your metabolism with activities like jumping, dancing and jogging. • Today is YMCA Healthy Kids. Take the kids to the nearby YMCA for some fun activities. Be an active family. • Walking is the most popular exercise for adults. Teach your kids to walk for a healthy, daily activity. • After a big meal, take a family walk and burn extra calories. It will also help you digest. • Make the backyard or front yard into an obstacle course and have a family race! • Exercise has even been proven to help kids sleep better and reduce stress. • Promote activity rather than exercise to kids. • Build healthy habits from their favorite activities. • Start the day with a family stroll around the block These are the first 20 of a list of 82 tips, for the complete list, go to <a href="" target="_blank"></a>