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Wilbraham Middle School student wins Patriots gear for essay about healthy living

Date: 7/7/2009

WILBRAHAM - Jillian Preman, an eighth grade student at Wilbraham Middle School, has won third place in New England Dairy & Food Council's Fuel Up and Play essay contest. Her 400 word essay describing what foods she eats to stay healthy, how she enjoys being physically active and how she encourages other to do the same was selected from more than 200 entries from throughout the New England region. The third place prize includes an autographed football and jersey from New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

"At just 14 years old, Jillian's enthusiasm and leadership shined through in her award-winning essay," stated Amanda Aldred, RD, school nutrition specialist for New England Dairy & Food Council and one of the contest judges. "Jillian is a perfect example of how our program works to empower youth to take action for their health and get involved in making positive changes in their schools and beyond."

The contest was developed to help schools make positive changes in student eating and physical activity habits. It encouraged kids to consume more of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Food Groups to Encourage - low-fat and fat-free dairy, whole grains, fruits and vegetables - and to engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferable all, days of the week.

Other Fuel Up and Play essay contest winners include Laura Antonelli of Cranston, R.I. (first place) and Bryan Perkins of Mansfield, Mass. (second place).

For more information about school nutrition and fitness initiatives, visit

Jillian Preman's essay:

Touchdown! The crowd goes wild! Do you know how these athletes stay in shape and perform so well? They eat healthy foods and exercise everyday. Do you hope to someday win championships, or just live a healthy life? To do this you should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day, and eat healthy fuel up foods. If you don't already, you should start now. You might ask, how do I have enough time to play for 60 minutes and get the right types of food? I'll tell you what I do to stay healthy. What I do is eat a variety of different food groups in each meal. For breakfast I have a bowl of cereal with milk, so I can have healthy bones and build strong muscles. Don't forget about those colorful fruits and vegetables! Be sure to add in fruit like strawberries or oranges to start your day off right. For lunch, I have a yogurt with some fruit, pretzels and a juice box, so that I get all of the different food groups. For an afternoon snack, I will have vegetables, like carrots. For dinner, I have a glass of milk, and one of each of the food groups. My favorite dinner is homemade chicken pot pie. If you are like me and like sweets every now and then, that's okay too, but just make sure to eat them in moderation. Once you have the idea down on how to incorporate healthy foods into your life, you now need to get active. All you need is 1 hour of being active, and you will be well on your way to scoring that winning touchdown, or just being healthy. I stay active by going to dance class, having soccer practices, and then soccer games on the weekend. Even if it's just a few minutes here and there, it all counts! To encourage others to eat better and be more active, I tell them that when I eat healthy foods, I feel better. I tell other kids that when you are physically active, your body feels healthier, and if you are outside getting exercise, you're also getting fresh air. It's not hard to stay active and eat right. Get out and play, and fuel up on some healthy foods. Its 4th down - will you go for it? Or will you reject the challenge? It's your choice.