'Rockstar Nutritionist' gets kids jammin' to a healthier beat
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 18, 2011
LANDSTUHL, Germany — Getting a gymnasium full of middle school students fired up about drinking milk is a tall order.
Jill Jayne, the self-billed “Rockstar Nutritionist,” made it look easy this past week at Landstuhl Elementary-Middle School.
The registered dietician and musician from Pittsburgh, had a crowd of fifth- to eighth-graders, along with their teachers, dancing a silly jig and singing about bone health.
The students ate it up.
Earlier in the morning, Jayne performed her “Jump for Jill” show for the elementary school. After each performance, the students pursued her for autographs: She signed scraps of paper, a notebook and a lunch box, but turned down requests to sign clothing.
“It was awesome,” said fourth-graders Monica Lawson and Briana Kohl, in unison.
Jayne brought her nutrition rock show to about half a dozen Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Germany this week, marking the first time Jayne and her entourage have performed at U.S. military schools overseas, according to her communications manager and brother, Mark Jayne.
Stateside, Jayne has performed about 750 times for 170,000 kids, according to a news release about her show.
For the older students, Jayne on Thursday advised the students to be “critical consumers.”
“It’s really all about ‘this is my body and I make the choices about what I eat and how I exercise,’” she said.
It’s probably advice students have heard before, but Landstuhl Elementary-Middle School physical education teacher Sandy Merchat hopes Jayne’s unique style and lively show will help the message stick.
“If we can be the role models and get kids to buy into eating healthy, exercising, at a young age, then that (becomes) their lifestyle,” she said. “It’s hard to get adults to change.”
April Parsells, a registered dietician and parent on Landstuhl Elementary-Middle School’s wellness committee heard about Jayne and proposed the idea of bringing her to Germany to perform at the school, said Merchat, who also is the wellness committee chairwoman.
“We perused the website (of Jayne) and said ‘Absolutely,’ ” Merchat said.
Because the school couldn’t afford to fund the overseas travel of Jayne and her two colleagues, parents got other schools in the Kaiserslautern area interested in hosting Jayne, and in turn, were able to secure donations from base organizations in the community to cover the travel costs, Merchat said.
“This rocked the house,” she said after Thursday’s show.