WAYNESBORO – “I think it is good to learn about what happens in your organs when you do good stuff,” says elementary school student Cassidy Bradley.
Cassidy is sitting at a table with her classmates in a nutrition station called organ wise guys. The class teaches children how to eat healthy, make smart food choices and how doing so effects their organs.
Sitting next to Cassidy is Jayden Randolph. He says he loves eating hot dogs, but he says he is also learning how to eat healthy. J’adore Carter smiles and says she is learning about eating healthy food, too.
Get Fresh is a pilot program introduced at William Perry Elementary School with the purpose and goal of creating long-term systemic change in the health of the community by preventing Type 2 diabetes.
“Over the long term, we hope to see the percentage of students with diabetes decrease as this program is in place,” says Krystal Moyers, community outreach director at Augusta Health.
According to a community health needs assessment conducted by Augusta Health, three priority issues were identified in the Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County areas: nutrition and physical activity, diabetes and mental health.
The program taught to elementary schoolers and their parents at William Perry provides nutrition education, biometric screenings, fresh produce tastings and family nutrition programming.
By bringing nutrition education into the classroom, kids enjoy learning about a fruit or vegetable that is in season every week and then take home information about that food that they can share with their parents, including recipes. This week kids learned about the sweet potato.
During the program, kids go from station to station which include learning about how foods affect the body’s organs, how physical activities help keep us healthy, what ingredients to use when cooking and then all this healthy learning is topped off by making a fun dessert.
To make it something the entire family will enjoy together when they get home, parents learn how to cook nutritious meals in the school’s kitchen.
“I think it’s awesome,” says parent Rebecca Campbell, who has two children at William Perry Elementary. “It gives families a chance to learn how to do different things in the kitchen, and it’ll give the children an opportunity to help out, too, cause I think children are more eager to eat things that they helped to prepare.”
At the end of the program, every family gets to take home a bag of fresh food provided by Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
Outside of the school, they get to expand upon what they are learning by going on field trips with Project Grows to learn how to grow fresh fruits and vegetable in gardens.
Community partners for Get Fresh include Augusta Health, Waynesboro Public Schools, the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Project Grows, Murphy Deming School of Health Sciences and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
The program runs through October on the 16, 23 and 30 from 3-5 p.m. starting in the school’s cafeteria.
Monique Calello can be reached at email@example.com.
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