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Many of the youth in Agua Escondido do not follow a healthy diet and, as a result, some of them are underweight because they are not getting the necessary nutrients. Youth especially need to consider what they are eating as it has important consequences on their overall health and growth.
The project will be carried out with the help of Betsaira, a local nutritionist, and Arsenia, the teacher of the kindergarten class in Agua Escondida. The hope is that such a multidisciplinary team will be able to introduce basic nutrition to the youth in a variety of interesting activities.
The main objective of the project is to teach youth the importance of good nutrition and health. We hope to animate them about eating fruit and vegetables instead of sweets so that they become conscious of what they are eating and how it impacts their overall wellbeing.
The idea for the project was developed by me and the Director of Education at FUNDAHMER, who has noticed a need for health education among the youth in Agua Escondido. The actual planning of the activities will be a collaboration between Betsaira, Arsenia, and myself.
The project was successful in introducing the kindergarteners to a healthy and essential diet.By way of fun activities, we made them think about what they eat and, throughout the year, many of them did gain weight as a result of the healthy foods we served in class and possibly a change in their diets at home as well.
While the majority of the activities were carried out solely with the youth in Arsenia’s class, we did invite their parents to a couple activities in order to demonstrate to them what we were teaching their children. The hope was that the parents would likewise take initiative and encourage the youth to eat healthier at home.
Unfortunately, Betsaira dropped out from the project midway through the year, but we were able to use the nutrition information learned from her in subsequent activities. Arsenia, the kindergarten teacher, has continued the nutrition lessons in 2009 and 2010, thus introducing the importance of a healthy diet and nutrition to a great many more youth.
As this was one of the first projects I did with FUNDAHMER, the initiative was really about making connections with people in the community. First, this required me to connect with the teacher of the kindergarten in Agua Escondida and assist in developing a program that would eventually be continued in 2009 and 2010.
A multidisciplinary team can be very successful in carrying out projects as each person offers a unique viewpoint and different tactics for the activities.
Throughout the year, we used many interactive tactics to introduce the youth to basic health practices and nutrition. We began by singing songs about the body and talking about the importance of washing your hands, especially before meals. During one of our first meetings, we all made sculptures out of fruit that resembled faces and gave them names and characteristics. The activity was certainly successful in revitalizing their interest in fruit and ensuring that they would enjoy the bi-monthly nutrition sessions. As the youth enjoyed the hands-on aspect of sculpture, we incorporated clay and had them create meals of fruits and vegetables every so often. These sessions were led by “Raoul the Cook,” a puppet that became somewhat of a mascot for the kindergarten class. Another successful session involved the youth drawing an assortment of vegetables so that they could then “prepare” their own soups for the class to enjoy. The variation between the activities kept the kindergarteners interested and engaged throughout the year.