A newsmaker you should know: Nutritionist uses rock music to deliver healthy message

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Jill Jayne has so much enthusiasm, it's difficult not to get excited along with her.

That is what makes her perfect in her role as the "Rockstar Nutritionist."

"I'm the opposite of strict. Most dietitians tell us what not to do, but I'm into celebrating your body," Ms. Jayne said. "Your body is amazing, and I want to tell you how to fuel it."

Ms. Jayne, 31, of Oakmont, is a dietitian who takes her message to children and families, teaching them how to eat healthy and exercise -- in a fun manner. She has created the "Jump with Jill" program, which uses multi-media, including CDs, videos and assemblies, to deliver her message.

This past year, she has brought her message of health and nutrition to more than 50 local schools.

Adagio Health's Power Up Program, a nutrition education program serving Western Pennsylvania schools funded through the USDA's SNAP-Ed program, sponsored Ms. Jayne's visits to the Pittsburgh Public Schools and 16 other districts in six counties. She also has performed in other districts and plans to bring her shows to more schools as well.

To encourage children to get involved in health and nutrition, Ms. Jayne is sponsoring the Watermelon Contest in partnership with the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Children are to use her video and song, "Nature's Candy," as inspiration and create their own video to the song. Contestants send the links to their videos, and the winner will get $1,000 for their school and a watermelon party. The contest deadline is Friday.

Ms. Jayne has "cloned two other Jills," one in Michigan and "Phillie Jillie," who works out of the Philadelphia area. The three perform in schools all over the country and will go to Germany next year.

She has developed a curriculum to accompany the program.

"We want it to be more than an assembly. We want to provide the educational tools so the program continues," she said.

The K-2 and 3-5 grade curriculum is in use in several Philadelphia schools.

Ms. Jayne's website boasts several educational videos for parents and teachers to use with children, including one filmed to the music from the movie, "Flashdance," which was filmed in Pittsburgh, and the Bone Rap video, also filmed here.

Devoted to her hometown area -- Ms. Jayne grew up in Natrona Heights -- she is always looking for children to feature in her videos.

"I'm constantly looking for young talent -- not actors, but children who want some theater experience. I love working in my city and want kids from here to be featured," she said.

She wants children in the audience to relate to the children in her videos, Ms. Jayne said. She looks for children ages 8 to 14 of "all races, sizes and gender."

"I want the kids to see themselves in the videos. I want to represent every child," she said.

Now that Ms. Jayne's program and materials are known in schools, she wants to expand.

"We have been really successful in schools and now they know and trust us. Now, we want to take that to every home," she said.

And that may mean landing a book deal and product licensing.

"I want to write a 'how to feed your kids' book," she said.

Although her target audience might be families and children, Ms. Jayne also enjoys educating other professionals. This week, she is at the 2013 Nutrition Assistants' Multi-State Conference in North Carolina, where she will present strategies for reaching children and fighting childhood obesity.

"One of my most popular performances is for, believe it or not, grown-ups," she said. "I frequent the conference circuit sharing the science behind my art -- 'Nutrition Education Through Entertainment: A Rock & Roll Approach to Communicating Your Health Messages' -- to other nutrition professionals and teachers as the keynote speaker at conferences."

For more information about the Watermelon Contest: www.jumpwithjill.com.

neigh_east - neigh_south

Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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