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Kids learn healthy habits from Mickey Mouse and Special Agent Oso

Posted Feb 11 2011 4:31pm

(DISNEY JUNIOR/DISNEY CHANNEL)

Parents, kids can learn how to eat healthy and be active with Disney Junior. Two new shorts, “Mickey Mousekersize!” and “Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps,” are geared to kids between the ages two and seven and help children learn life-long healthy habits in a fun manner.

The new shows are part of the Disney Magic of Healthy Living, an initiative launched last year to partner with parents in raising healthy and active children. You may have already seen First Lady Michelle Obama and many of Disney’s young stars in public service announcements.

The initiative isn’t only TV-screen deep. In 2006, Disney implemented nutritional guidelines across all Disney-branded businesses. This includes food associated with favorite Disney characters and stars, healthier food options at Disney parks – including fruit for snacks, the elimination of trans fats and healthier options for kid’s meals – and provided a million dollar grant to build play spaces and gardens in 10 under-served communities.

Recently, I interviewed Deanna Cook, Creative Director for Disney’s FamilyFun magazine , and received some very practical, doable and easy-to-implement advice on how parents can encourage their children and set healthy examples.

To bring fans some Disney Junior insider news, I also had the pleasure of chatting with Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Disney Junior Worldwide.

MOC: What are some ways a parent can encourage their child to be active and eat healthy?

DC: Make exercise fun for the whole family. Establish family rituals on the weekends like hiking or biking together. During the week, try to work exercise in throughout the day: walk rather than drive to school, dance during TV commercials, and play a parents against kids soccer game in the backyard. The most important thing is to make it fun.

To encourage healthy eating, add fun colors to kids’ meals with fresh fruits and veggies and challenge kids to eat every color of the rainbow during the day. Make it a family rule that the only snack allowed to be eaten in front of the TV are veggies. Teach your kids about healthy portion sizes, using objects to compare (a hamburger should never be larger than the size of a hockey puck). Make healthy food convenient: wash carrots and slice green peppers and store on the lowest shelf in the fridge so kids can easily grab and go.

MOC: What should parents never do when trying to get their kids to be active and healthy?

DC: Try not to push kids too hard. If they don’t like a sport or the taste of a healthy food, try something different and keep it positive. There are thousands of ways to stay fit, and just as many fresh, healthy foods to try.

MOC: What’s your fave exercise or routine on “Mickey Mousekersize?”

DC: I like the jump-roping exercises (I loved jump roping as a girl!). It’s a fun and inexpensive way to stay fit, plus you get to recite silly rhymes!

MOC: How important is it for children to see their parents and family participating in healthy activities?

DC: It’s extremely important for parents to set a healthy example. Kids follow everything we do, so we need to remind ourselves to eat well and exercise (even if we’re tired after a long day at work or home). During family time, whether it’s at the dinner table or in the backyard, make healthy habits fun for the whole family.

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(DISNEY JUNIOR/DISNEY CHANNEL)

That’s not all for Disney Junior and the Magic of Healthy Living. Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Disney Junior Worldwide – she’s responsible for Disney’s learning-focused multiplatform TV content for kids ages two through seven – shares more about the launch of Disney Junior and the new shows.

MOC: There’s a lot of buzz in the parent-world about the change from Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior. Why is Playhouse Disney changing to Disney Junior? And, why now?

Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Disney Junior Worldwide.

NK: The brand was formed because we talk to parents every day.  Through Disney Junior, we are responding to what parents have asked us for – more of the Disney brand essence they know and love – and ultimately – a dedicated 24-hour destination for young kids featuring stories and characters that make kids of all ages feel something in their heart.

The launch of Disney Junior in the U.S. is the next step in our global preschool strategy, which began 10 years ago with the premiere of our first dedicated preschool channel in the UK.


MOC: There’s tons of excitement about the new shows on Disney Junior. Equally, there are worries about favorite shows getting axed. What can families expect from Disney Junior?

NK: Five new series anchored by the new animated adventure series “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” join the Disney Junior schedule: the short form titles “Mickey Mousekersize,” “Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps” (supporting Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative) and “A Poem Is…” (narrated by Jennifer Garner and Katie Holmes, among other familiar voices), and full length series “Babar and the Adventures of Badou” and “Tinga Tinga Tales.”
Viewers’ current favorites: “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso,” “Jungle Junction,” “Little Einsteins” and “Imagination Movers,” will also be seen on Disney Junior.

We’re busy in various stages of development and production on more new series.

MOC: As a parent, I’m thrilled about “Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living” initiative – and wow, Disney even enlisted the help of First Lady Michelle Obama to help our kids become more active and eat right. On the new Disney Junior schedule are shorts “Mickey Mousekersize!” and “Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps.” Can you share more about these special programs?

NK: “Mickey Mousekersize” is hosted by Mickey Mouse and focuses on the fun of exercising, encouraging children at home to get up and move along with Mickey and pals.
“Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps” features Oso and friends as they watch a live-action kid demonstrate three healthy steps to exercising and eating right.

MOC: Is Disney Junior planning to feature any Mickey Mousekersize activities (tips, exercises or healthy recipes) online?
NK: DisneyJunior.com will debut with a Mickey Mousekersize game that encourages kids to get up and do the featured moves, playing along as their favorite Clubhouse character.

MOC: “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” is one our favorite shows, so my kids are excited about the new exercise shorts. Will any of Disney’s other classic characters don exercise gear for the 2 – 7 year-old set?

NK: We know that kids love to imitate their favorite characters and how they behave, so we’re always looking for opportunities to model good life skills and healthy choices for kids. As our projects take shape that feature the classic characters, as well as new original ones, we’ll certainly be looking for ways to make that happen.

MOC: What’s next for Disney Junior and DisneyJunior.com in partnering with parents to help their kids develop life-long healthy habits?

NK: As far as programming for Disney Junior is concerned, we have a new series in production that will premiere next year when we launch the 24-hour Disney Junior channel that is all about health, hygiene and developing life-long healthy habits.  It’s called “Doc McStuffins” and our hero is Doc, a 6 year old girl who is the Dr. Doolittle of the toy world.  She can fix any toy with the help of her resident toys and stuffed animals who come to life when someone is in need.  What Doc models is a positive attitude towards taking good care of oneself.  She helps to demystify doctors and check-ups and many of the other medical issues that parents face day in and day out with their kids.  Our storylines range from showing why it’s important to drink plenty of water when it’s hot outside to eating enough to feel satisfied but not so much that you get a belly ache.  We also tackle wearing eyeglasses, getting enough sleep and how to handle a boo-boo, just to name a few.

DisneyJunior.com will feature full episodes of both “Mickey Mousekersize” and “Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps.”  Additionally, a dedicated section for parent and caregivers will highlight a variety of Disney Junior-themed healthy recipes all keeping within the guidelines of Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living initiative.

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