Eating well and playing well at the Park City Museum
February 1, 2013
Obesity has been a problem in the United States for years.
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that more than one-third of adults in the country are obese, and that obesity is related to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
In order to curb obesity in children, organizations such as Let’s Move and the National Football League has started programs that recommend children to play for at least one hour a day.
Even fast-food restaurants, which some people blame for the rise in obesity in the U.S., have made changes to their menus and offer fresh fruit as a substitute for French fries and other side orders.
The Park City Museum is also spreading the word of health with its new exhibit "Eat Well, Play Well" that opens today, Feb. 2, and runs through Sunday, April 28.
The 400-square-foot exhibit originated in the Oregon Museum of Science and industry in Portland, and was made possible by a Science Education Partnership Award and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from the National Center for Research Resources, which is a component of the National Institutes of Health.
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"It is comprised of six interactive stations that encourage healthy living and the science of healthy food choices," said Courtney Titus, the Park City Museum’s curator of collections and exhibits. "It is designed to help children and adults discover the many fun and interesting ways to stay active."
The stations are Balancing Act, Calories In, Calories Out, Be Flexible, Healthy Choices and Eat Rainbow.
"Balancing Act tackles the issue of having good physical balance and why that’s important for everyone of all ages," Titus said. "The station allows people to see how long they can hold their balance, and if it’s not so great, the station teaches about some of the ways — walking, Tai Chi and such — that people can develop good balance."
Calories In, Calories Out examines how many calories are in different snacks and how long it will take to burn them off.
"This area includes a choice panel and an arm crank that allows the participant get a feel of how much work that takes to get rid of the calories that are in a bunch of strawberries to a bunch of chocolate candy bars with peanuts," Titus said. "It also tells us that calories aren’t bad things, but are necessary, however, it’s about finding a healthy balance of how much was intake and how much we burn off."
When patrons work the Be Flexible display, they will revisit the sit-and-reach test they did in their physical education classes, Titus said.
"It tells you why flexibility is good, especially when you get older and you can compare yourself with others," she said.
The tile-puzzle game in the Sizing Up station gets people thinking about the amounts of food in a healthy serving size by comparing them to the size of every-day objects such as a CD, a computer mouse and a deck of cards.
"With the super-deluxe meals found at fast-food restaurants, people have lost a sense of what a real serving is," Titus said. "They think it’s a lot more than what the sizes should be.
The Healthy Choices station is an interactive computer game where people can choose different methods of going to the store or running errands, and at the end, they can see where they can make healthy improvements and the last station is the Eat a Rainbow puzzle.
"That is designed for younger children to play with, but also helps parents teach their kids to eat a well-rounded meal," Titus said. "The color of the food matches the color of a rainbow. For example, apples and strawberries are in the red. Grapefruit, carrots and squash are in the yellow/orange area. Broccoli and avocados are in the green area and blueberries are in the blue/purple area."
The puzzle shows kids that they need to try to eat every color.
"Parents can use away from the exhibit because they can tell their kids they need to eat more of the red foods or blue foods," Titus explained.
One of the reasons it’s on display at the museum is because Park City is such an active place.
"People enjoy their outdoors here," Titus said.
Another reason is because it is bilingual, said Sandra Morrison, the museum’s executive director.
"We have partnered with Holy Cross Ministries and participate in an after-school program with our Hispanic community," she said. "So this is a fun way to bring them into the museum."
Finally, the museum was interested in the exhibit because it features a lot of hands-on opportunities.
"Last year, we had our Park City Pets exhibit that had all those interactive stations for the kids," Morrison said. "We realized we get a lot of kids in the museum because after people go skiing, they’ll bring their children to the museum. So, we looked for another exhibit that had a lot of interactives to keep the kids busy, so the parents could explore the rest of the museum."
That’s not to say the "Eat Well, Play Well" exhibit is just for kids, Titus said.
"Adults can really enjoy it as well," she said. "When the staff was installing the exhibit, we would challenge each other with balancing competitions. So, if you’re an adult, there’s no reason to be shy about trying all of these things out."
The Park City Museum, 528 Main St., will display the "Eat Well, Play Well" exhibit from Saturday, Feb.2, through Sunday, April 28. The exhibit is free with museum admission. In addition, the museum will offer two free days, Feb. 5, and April 16, where the exhibit will be open to the public for free. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org .