Spotlight On Students
TAKING ACTION FOR SCHOOL HEALTH
My master’s project was entitled: “My Plate: Making food choices for your family.” This school health project involved designing and hosting the first-ever Family Nutrition Education Event held at The School at Columbia University by the Parents Association. The planning involved over three months of careful planning and meaningful collaboration.
The event brought together Nutrition Educators and Health Educators from Teachers College, Columbia University’s Program in Health Education (i.e. see Alicia Chung and myself, Kara Siegel—the two at the far left in the above photo), as well as parents and middle school students from The School at Columbia University. The event provided active learning experiences for parents and children in the primary division at The School at Columbia University.
Designed as a parent-child activity, event participants visited food group stations, based on the USDA’s “My Plate,” learning about the variety of foods in each group as well as portion size. They also learned about the health benefits of selecting more fruit and vegetables, as well as strategies to build a balanced meal following “My Plate.”
Most importantly, event participants were required to try every sample food available for tasting. Food was prepared by parents at The School, as well as donated by a few local businesses and The School at Columbia University’s food service provider, FLIK.
After visiting the food group stations and using everything they learned about My Plate, event participants then created their own virtual meals with arts and crafts.
As the photographs suggest, the event was a big success. Moreover, my master’s project allowed me to put what I learned through my education at Teachers College in the Program in Health Education into action—in a real world setting! The comments of parents, teachers and students all affirmed the value of the school health project, as well.
My vision is for schools around the city and nation to follow the model we created, allowing “My Plate” and the goal of selecting more fruit and vegetables to become a real life, tangible experience; perhaps, one that transforms lives and results in ongoing behavior change, as well as healthier children, parents, families, and schools.