Irving, Texas Students Embrace Healthy Eating with Enthusiasm
Otis Brown Elementary School in Irving, Texas has turned a nutrition grant from Action for Healthy Kids into a life changing experience for their students, parents and staff.
When health teacher Marcela Quiroz sent home healthy activities for families to do together, she didn’t expect to get a lot of participation. Then the videos started pouring in! She had to enlist help from other teachers to keep up with the submissions. Kids were proud to show off what they were doing—from drinking more water to highlighting what a healthy snack looks like, kids embraced the activities with enthusiasm.
“I learned that parents just needed to know what to do. When I gave them a list of healthy snacks, they used it!” said Marcela. “For some of these families, it is hard to eat healthy. So next year I want to provide a gift card for healthy food purchases.” This year, she provided healthy snacks at school. For example, on Fruity Friday, the kids got cheese sticks with apple slices, and teachers donated water for the kids.
Marcela provided families with 30 different activities to choose from using the CATCH nutrition curriculum chosen by the district for this grant program. One young girl did all 30 activities! Elizabeth Velasquez, bilingual teacher, asked her students to show her a “CATCH MVP” and had kids take pictures to illustrate what a CATCH MVP would be doing on a day to day basis based on the nutrition lessons they learned in class.
Another young student now has her own garden where she grows tomatoes and lettuce. She pulls the wagon with dirt for exercise. Many students wound up setting examples for their classmates, who would see a video and want to try that activity, too. Many teachers noted a difference: After sharing the nutrition lessons, children would ask them, “Is this a good choice?” while picking white milk over chocolate. Students will come to school and say things like, “I drank water today,” without being asked.
Marcela had a drawing for active prizes, and the students got an entry for each activity they did. Most staff and students took up the challenge wholeheartedly, and kids participated both virtually and at school, where teachers would get them outside to do some of the activities. The culture of the whole school has changed. Marcela noted the difference in small ways, such as on Teacher Appreciation Day, where healthy snacks were served instead of candy and chips. She’s so excited at the difference the grant has made.
This grant was made possible with funding from Cargill.