Garfield the Cat and DC's Shadd Elementary School Students Host Winners at School Assembly Today
Washington, D.C. - The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at the National Institutes of Health today announced the three Grand Prize Winners of its "How I Get a Heap of Sleep" contest. The announcement was made at a special school assembly at Shadd Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant and Dr. Carl E. Hunt, Director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the NHLBI — joined by Garfield the Cat — awarded prizes to Danielle Wodka, age 7, of Lemont, IL; and Amanda Davol of Somerset, MA and Qian Wang of Ft. Thomas, KY, both age 8. Ninety Shadd Elementary School children also joined in welcoming the youngsters to the Nation's Capital and their school where six Shadd students were also awarded Star Sleeper status for winning a local version of the contest.
According to Dr. Lenfant, "Many children are not getting enough sleep each night, and this can interfere with their performance in school and many other activities. The NHLBI is trying to teach children at an early age to establish a good night's sleep as a lifelong habit so that when they are older and at greater risk of serious accidents like drowsy driving crashes, they will know better than to get into a car when they are sleep-deprived." Lenfant added, "The contest helps make this a fun and relevant learning experience."
The two-month contest, which ran from September to November 2002, was part of the Sleep Well. Do Well. Star Sleeper Campaign, a national educational initiative designed to reach young children-and their parents, teachers, and health care providers - with the message that adequate nighttime sleep-at least nine hours each night on a regular basis - is important to their health, performance, and safety. The campaign is co-sponsored by Paws, Incorporated, the creative studio behind Garfield, the campaign's "spokescat."
The contest challenged children to describe what they do before bed each night to help them get a good night's sleep — and why. It was offered to children nationwide through online and classroom promotions, including a lesson plan sent to 44,000 second and third grade classrooms.
Among the things the Grand Prize winners said they did each night to help them get a good night's sleep was saying "a prayer for my parents, baby sister, and our President Bush" from Wodka; not watching TV from Davol; and finishing his homework early "because then I can get a relaxing evening" from Wang. Many of the other entries described similar actions, as well as taking a "calm-down period," including a warm bath and bedtime story; sleeping with a cuddly Garfield toy or teddy bear; wearing "comfy" pajamas; fluffing their pillows; and taking a shower and brushing their teeth so they will be clean and "comfy" in bed.
According to the NHLBI, sleep problems are estimated to affect about 70 million Americans of every age, race, and socioeconomic level. There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that inadequate sleep results in tiredness, difficulties with focused attention, irritability, easy frustration, and difficulty modulating impulses and emotions. This is as true for children as it is for adults. Many children with chronic sleep deprivation may not seem sleepy and may even appear to be overactive. Chronic sleep loss in children may be overlooked or erroneously attributed to hyperactivity or behavior disorders.
The Campaign is being implemented by the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR) at the NHLBI. In his remarks, Dr. Hunt explained to the children that getting enough sleep each night is important to their doing their best at whatever they do. "Whether it's your school work, or sports, or even having good relationships with your family and friends, getting enough sleep each night helps you do your best. It even helps boost your brain power."
The awards for the Grand Prize winners included a trip to Washington D.C. for them and their families, along with a prize package containing a Garfield Globe, donated by Cram Globes; Garfield books from Ballantine Books; a one-year subscription to Garfield Island, a kid-safe browser and online community from Children's Technology Group; a Merriam Webster Garfield Dictionary; school products from Mead; lunch bags, almanacs, and pencils from Time for Kids; and Garfield toothbrushes and small plush dolls from Butler.
Twenty First Prize Winners, along with the six Shadd Elementary School winners, received a Garfield Sleep Kit containing a Star Sleeper Fun Pad with games and puzzles with sleep messages; a 16-inch tall plush Garfield doll in his Star Sleeper pajamas; and many other Garfield items.
Additional information on sleep for parents, teachers, and pediatricians - as well as fun, interactive games with sleep messages for children - are available on the Star Sleeper Web site at http://starsleep.nhlbi.nih.gov [Link no longer available]. Visitors to the site can also check out Star Sleeper gear, including the Fun Pad and Garfield plush doll.
About the Sleep Well. Do Well. Star Sleeper Campaign
In February 2001, the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute launched the Sleep Well. Do Well. Star Sleeper Campaign to educate America's children - and their parents, educators and health care providers-that children ages 7 to 11 need at least nine hours of sleep each night on a regular basis to do their best at whatever they do. The Campaign is co-sponsored by Paws, Inc., the corporate entity behind Garfield the Cat. Garfield is the Campaign's official "spokescat." Other founding partners include the National Association of Elementary School Principals and the American Academy of Pediatrics.