“Skittles, cookies, potato chips, Snickers, licorice, Flaming Hots.” That’s how 2nd and 3rd grade students answered my question “What foods ‘raw’ and ‘green’ do you eat?” Little did I know they heard something other than what I intended.
The puzzle began to unravel when a 3rd grader, lining up to leave class, genuinely inquired, “Ms. Terry, why haven’t I seen you at Walgreen’s?”
Completely baffled, I responded, “Why would you see me at Walgreen’s?”
He said, “My dad takes me there all the time and you are never there.”
Speechless, we stared at each other. I thought, “Does he know how many Walgreen’s there are, and why does he think I should be in any of them?”
Then an epiphany occurred.
A discerning facilitator said, “He thought you were saying ‘Walgreen’s’ as you repeatedly said, ‘raw’ and then ‘green’.” That insightful moment, beginning the Raw Green/Watercolor Workshop series revealed the dearth of knowledge that workshop sessions must address about health. Special emphasis on the importance consuming “raw green” and other colored vegetables have on acquiring and maintaining radiant health is necessary.
Hosted by Barack Obama K-12 School (formerly Custer High School), YMCA Young Leaders Academy and Brown Street Academy, in Milwaukee, The Raw Green/Watercolor Workshop, became the perfect vehicle for me to provide beneficial after school activities to students. Implementing it this past school year, I made a serious commitment to lay the groundwork for eating raw green (and other colored) vegetables by planting seeds toward future growth. But, one day, I was asked, “Isn’t there some way to make eating raw green vegetables fun as well as healthy?” “No,” I answered. “It takes discipline.” Nevertheless, the question lingered in my mind.
Thankfully, final student surveys suggested that I help them to “eat raw vegetables” by providing salad dressings. For future workshops, dips and salad dressings will be added to create “fun” for the taste buds. For students, after all, the point is to get them to eat raw vegetables. They generally like fruit. By adding small amounts of fruits to juiced raw green vegetables, the possibility of “fun” definitely increases. Smoothies, already fun, can be made healthier, with blander tasting raw green vegetables added. Caroline Carter’s smoothie recipe with pineapple, collard greens, and bananas is a hit with everyone.
This workshop is timely. First Lady Michele Obama stresses health on a national level. In Milwaukee, Will Allen, a 2008 MacArthur Genius Award Fellow, founded the organization Growing Power to promote urban farming.
And just published last month, Karen Le Billon’s French Kids Eat Everything discusses ten rules to accomplish this. One of them, based on French scientific findings, is that children must taste a food a minimum of seven times to accept eating it. She explains how she ridded herself of antiquated beliefs that her children wouldn’t eat healthy foods. And just think, this indulgence reinforces bad habits and ultimately leads to tooth decay, obesity and acute and chronic diseases. Teachers and parents must begin to offer raw fruits and vegetables instead of offering junk food.
With matching community support, Raw Green/Watercolor Workshop, an art and nutrition program, was awarded funding from the Milwaukee Public School Partnership for the Arts and Humanities grant. The grant is an allocation of $1.5 million approved by the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, to support arts and humanities-related opportunities for children and youth in after school and summer programs. Alice’s Garden, Walnut Way Conservation Corp., Riverwest Artists Association, and Lena’s Piggly Wiggly provided the required matching community funds.
Visual art, with watercolors, is covered in the second blog of a two-part series. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Evelyn Patricia Terry