North Carolina’s Green TeamWed 12 Oct 2011
Story by Adri Warrick
You never know the day you give birth to your first child what journey lies ahead. You do everything in your power to nurture, clothe them, bath them, tie their shoes and zip up their coats. You try to do everything to protect them from harm... but how often do you stop to think about how the food they are eating is either working for or against them?
I am a mother of two young boys and together with good neighborhood friends, Tracy Freese and Katherine Davis, decided this year to chair the “Green Committee” at Sharon Elementary in Charlotte, NC. I recently became a certified holistic health counselor and the education I received motivated me to get our youth healthy through educating parents as well as children. We decided that the “Green Committee” would not only include recycling efforts but would also cover children’s health initiatives as both are truly related from a sustainability perspective.
The support we have received from both the school and the parents has been remarkable! Our principal has been extremely supportive as has the PTA. Not only do we have ample volunteers, we have parents truly dedicated and passionate about educating our youth about the dangers of excess sugar, dyes and processed foods.
We have teamed up with No Fizz USA to bring a National Food Day event to Sharon in late October. No Fizz USA, founded by Bobby DeMuro, is a non-profit organization whose goal is to educate people about the importance of proper hydration, nutrition and regular physical activity. Our Green Committee along with No Fizz USA will go into the classrooms over two days to talk about hydration, eating less sugar and the difference between real and processed food.
We hope this is just the beginning of our efforts in the classroom to educate children on reading food labels, where our food comes from, how food is grown, shopping at farmers markets and eating local and organic when possible.
Because each fruit and vegetable is made up of different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, eating a variety or “rainbow” of fruits and vegetable is extremely important for overall health, growth, brain function, concentration, physical activity and helps eliminate any nutritional gaps in a child’s diet.
Thanks to Jeff Stout, general manager of The Penguin Drive In and also the father of one of our students, we were able to secure a donation from Sysco Food Services for enough produce for the entire student body (784 students). We will be offering apples, carrots and bananas to showcase the first three colors of the “rainbow” and then asking the students to eat the rest of the rainbow that day and every day going forward. It’s a fun way to get kids to crowd out processed food by eating more real whole foods. It’s also easy for them to remember. We will also challenge kids to start creating a plate for every meal that is half comprised of fruits and veggies, one quarter whole grains and a one quarter lean protein.
Our hopes for this year include...
• Contributing to our monthly school newsletter and emailing “shout outs” about a different topic each month, including ideas on packing a no waste lunch box, how to pack a healthier lunchbox, simple ways to incorporate more fruits and veggies (“green” or “ogre” smoothies which can include frozen berries, banana, spinach, kale or avocado) and more.
• Assigning a student ambassador to each classroom who will be responsible for recycling efforts and communicating nutrition tips and fun facts, ideas and goals to their classmates.
• Selecting students to be part of the morning radio program where they communicate green and health related topics.
Most of all, we want it to be fun and empower the kids to make educated choices about what is best for their growing bodies and the environment.
About the author: Adri Warrick is a mother of two boys, co-chair of the "Green Team" at Sharon Elementary in Charlotte, NC, a certified health counselor and co-founder of thewholetulip.com
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