Friday, April 30, 2010

Kids Teaching Parents

by Jillayne Samatas

As we have begun to start our parent outreach program this past year we have heard many interesting things from the parents that our students are learning and taking home. It’s wonderful! In our classes, we are always striving to teach the children basic cooking skills such as how to hold a knife, mincing and dicing to name a few. Not only are they learning these skills, but are learning how to work with others.

In the past before we started parent outreach we never really knew what our students were bringing home. We hoped they were sharing the recipes and information we shared with them to their parents, but we really had no idea. In fall 2009, we began parent meetings at each site which truly opened our eyes to the fantastic things the children are telling their parents. Parents were sharing with us that their children were teaching them skills in the kitchen and being disappointed in them when they ate McDonalds. It just goes to show the voice and power these children can have on their families and communities which can affect behavior and really make change. We can teach, teach, teach the children, but it is the parents buying the groceries and making decisions at home, therefore educating the adults can reinforce what we are teaching in our classes and make healthier communities.

Just this morning, I saw a commercial (actually several) that showed various snack items and cereals that were pretty unhealthy. For example, Apple Jacks had these two characters, a cinnamon stick and an apple that were animated; talking to each other, laughing, having fun. I could see how this could draw kids in and make them want to tell their mom or dad that they wanted that cereal with the talking characters. The truth of the matter is that Apple Jacks, while tasty, is full of sugar (not a lot of cinnamon) and I don’t think there are any apples in it. It just tastes like apple because of artificial flavoring.

Again, I strongly believe in moderation and every once in a while having a treat that you truly enjoy that might not be so good for you, however, we are teaching our children at a young age about so many of those unhealthy snacks and are using media to do that. The parents possibly get so tired of hearing it or may not have the nutritional knowledge themselves so they will purchase the item.

We need to go back to the basics to educate our parents, students, families and communities the basics of eating well. It doesn’t need to be the molecular components of food, but more so
portioning and understanding the benefits of why certain foods are good for you. Common Threads is beginning to do this and our goal is to continue this to build healthier communities that are making nutritious decisions.

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