Thursday, June 28, 2018

WANDA and New York Common Pantry Lead Development Training

Tambra Stevenson (seated in front row) led the morning "Garden Party" session.

On June 7th, PS 69-Journey Prep School hosted a professional development training for teachers and parent coordinators, exploring how school gardens and other nutrition education programming can be incorporated into a core curriculum to build a healthier school environment. The “Garden Party” course, presented by Tambra Stevenson, CEO/Founder of Women Advancing Dietetics, Nutrition and Agriculture (WANDA), a leading initiative to empower people to lead and create healthy communities in Africa and the Diaspora, shared resources and tips for teachers on how to grow healthier eaters in their classrooms. The three-hour interactive training explored how they could teach students about healthy eating through games, reading and healthy celebrations.

Teachers discussed the role of food in tradition, heritage, medicine, and creative expression as well as self-medication and health inequities. They shared methods for addressing unhealthy snacking - the biggest problem in schools - and modeling healthy behaviors. One teacher spoke about how her school holds teacher-led health fairs. Each teacher manages a booth where they share what physical activities they may be doing, for e.g. taking a yoga class or, their healthier eating habits such as bringing a fruit smoothie to school. Teachers also discussed the importance of healthy food policies in their classrooms as well as advocating for school-wide policies. "The best way to address food equity and create healthier food environments is to advocate for changes in food policies (in your school)," said Tambra.

Evelyn Vela, Environmental Program Manager at New York Common Pantry, led a two-part session, 'Building a Culture of Health: Your Garden and Beyond', that provided guidance on how school teachers, staff and aides could encourage healthy eating and increase physical activity in the classroom. In the first session participants learned how to develop a strong wellness council, i.e. a group of school community members who write the school wellness policy and implement it by planning and conducting wellness activities throughout the year. Evelyn pointed out that school gardens serve as an effective way to engage and motivate school wellness councils and school communities, increase fruit and vegetable consumption and teach the council to work as a team.

New York Common Pantry offers classroom-based support in nutrition education through a cooking and gardening curriculum. If you are interested in working with New York Common Pantry and are a District 7 school, contact Evelyn Vela at (917) 720-9711. Please let her know that you learned about this program through our newsletter.

For more information on starting or improving a wellness council, visit the DOE Office of School Wellness website. Interested in starting a garden curriculum? Contact Moria Byrne-Zaaloff, MPH, Program Coordinator for Creating Healthy Schools and Community Programs at Bronx Health REACH at (212) 633-0800 ext. 1287.

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