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Firefighters, UI distribute wellness calendars

by DEVIN WEEKS
Staff Writer | December 28, 2020 1:07 AM

Next year will be filled with positive messaging, new recipes, friendly firefighters and other good stuff for 9,000 kids in North Idaho.

Kootenai County Fire and Rescue, the Coeur d'Alene Fire Department and Northern Lakes Fire District partnered with the University of Idaho Extension Eat Smart Idaho program and nutrition services in the Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene school districts to distribute North Idaho custom-made wellness calendars to elementary students last week.

The calendars highlight nutrition, exercise and other healthy habits while including photos and details about local firefighters.

"The calendars have our birthdays, where we work, which station we're at, which shifts we work,” Kootenai County Fire and Rescue firefighter Tony Blasick said. "It's been pretty beneficial as far as firefighters because there’s times when we see the kids on scene. Sometimes they’ll recognize us from the calendar and it reduces the anxiety for that kid."

The idea for the wellness calendar began five years ago with Capt. Steve Jones and engineer Dylan Clark from Coeur d’Alene Fire. They wanted to be more involved with the health and wellness of school-aged children.

Each year, the calendars promote nutrition, fire safety, healthy eating and physical activity. The 2021 edition is "Families in the Kitchen: Encourage Success with Healthy Recipes."

In a normal year, Eat Smart teams with firefighters to visit elementary classrooms and deliver the calendars while fielding questions.

Since it's not a normal year, the calendars were delivered and distributed by teachers.

"If we can motivate some kids to stay in school and stay healthy, maybe one day they’ll want to be a firefighter too," Blasick said.

photo

Courtesy photo

University of Idaho Extension nutrition professor Shelly Johnson visits with fourth-grader Timberlyn Fitz Simmons at Winton Elementary School in Coeur d'Alene when wellness calendars were distributed last week. The calendars are a collaboration between U of I, local firefighters and nutrition services programs to promote healthy habits among elementary kids.