This summer the VSB's West 1 Community Schools Team built on the success of the popular Kidz in the Kitchen after school program by introducing a Healthy Eaters and Leaders Camp at Maple Grove Elementary.
The nutrition-based camp featured activities for elementary aged campers including onsite gardening, preparing nutritious food, creating food-based art and taking educational field trips to community gardens, bakeries and markets. Sponsorships helped to keep the cost for the camp low at only $120/child per week.
Marisol Petersen, Community Schools Coordinator said "Through all of our activities we wanted to connect students with where food comes from and the importance of preparing nutritious dishes and eating food together." We built on the success of our eight week "Kidz in the Kitchen" after school programs which aim to promote nutrition and food preparation skills."
For the five week summer camp, students from University of British Columbia's Food, Nutrition, and Health program were hired as camp coordinators. These students had previously interned with the afterschool program and were tasked with creating weekly menus for the students to follow.
Volunteer youth leaders from the local secondary schools also returned and were hired for their first summer jobs to assist with the program. A total of 11 staff members helped run the camp with a total of 222 students over 5 weeks.
With the central focus of the camp on nutrition education, the twice weekly field trips included outings to interesting locations like Cobbs Bread where the students prepared their own whole wheat buns and baked them in an industrial oven.
A highlight of the summer for both students and staff were the weekly visits by the BC Dairy Foundation with their mobile dairy classroom. The classroom includes a trailer where students can see a live cow and a calf. "Students saw the source of dairy and also learnt about animal care and compassion, especially when meeting the baby calf," said Peterson.
One of the interesting outcomes of the camp was that parent's commented that children who once refused to eat certain items at home would now try these items with their peers in the camp.
Indeed, on the last day of the camp over 150 parents and family members joined the students for a community cookout with a hip hop performance and a video that highlighted the camp's activities.
There will be ten Kidz in the Kitchen programs running in the West 1 area this Fall and more to come in the Winter and Spring. For more information on Kidz in the Kitchen contact Marisol Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.