The Milk Revolution in Alberta

The Milk Revolution In Alberta

Thu 19 May 2011

Story by Adrienne Swelander
 

In a simple attempt to make a health lesson more visually appealing, I showed a clip of Episode 1 from Season 2 of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution to my fourth grade class. It had a much deeper impact than I ever could have imagined.

Westglen School is in Edmonton, a city in central Alberta, Canada where over one million people call home. Currently 225 students between kindergarten and grade six attend Westglen School. Our school is environmentally active and has a strong emphasis on health and wellness, both in school and in the community. However, students feel one area within our school which needs to improve is the amount of chocolate milk served.

And so The Milk Revolution was born.

To get students to work on their writing skills, we set up a class blog and began tracking our progress, hoping the parents would read about it. Students were enthusiastic, but lacked confidence. The day after we started the blog, I tweeted out the address and suddenly Jamie Oliver noticed. His attention inspired the students to take on the milk situation full throttle. Suddenly the office was getting emails from parents asking to switch milk orders to white milk and students in the school were asking how they could help.

Since beginning The Milk Revolution, students have created a short educational video to share with other students around the world. One student suggested we also try to change other milk orders in their lunchrooms and so they've spoken to all the classes in our school and taken on the task of keeping track of milk orders so students can switch to white milk. Younger grades are joining the revolution with enthusiasm.

Student representatives presented their learning to our Parent Association. Although the parents were pleased with the work done by students, and impressed with the level of knowledge, they didn't seem overly eager to join the revolution. My students have accepted that change is not easy and it will take time. They are not, however, prepared to give up and so The Milk Revolution continues.

Current plans include speaking to our school trustee and assistance superintendent of our school district to see if they would be willing to help us with our cause. Recent changes in our school board policies have included a policy to promote health and wellness for all students and staff. We don't think the answer is a ban on chocolate milk because our evidence shows that students will make a good choice when they are taught about their food. Students believe the only way to make change happen is to teach people what they have learned.

Our class has been invited to speak at neighboring schools and several schools in the area are following our progress. Our next hope is that instead of just following us, students will begin their own revolutions and join us in making change happen. Though the school year is coming to a close soon, students have pledged to continue the revolution through the summer into the next school year.

You can check out the Milk Revolution Blog and MooTV here: http://themilkrevolution.blogspot.com

About the author: Adrienne Swelander has been teaching with Edmonton Public Schools for 5 years, her career previous to this was raising her two daughters, now 19 and 12, neither of whom drink chocolate milk!

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