- Author: Evelyn Morales
During my rotation at University of California CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, I had a great time and learned about fun and engaging ways to provide nutrition education to children and adults. I like what this program does for our community since nutrition education is essential to living a healthy life and prevent many diet-related diseases.
During my first week, I had the opportunity to create a Nutrition Corner for children about whole grains and write a blog about healthy treats for children on Halloween. I learned that using straightforward terms, pictures that represent the audience, and colorful and attractive items are a must on these projects to attract readers and accomplish the purpose of creating those tools.
That week I also got to attend the Walk to School Day in Madera. An event like this takes time and communication to coordinate. Public authorities, schools, and Public Health Department of Madera worked together with UC CalFresh to make this event remarkably fun for children while promoting physical activity. I helped the team organize the games and encourage children to be more active. I also learned that as nutrition and health educator, my job is to care about my community and maintain their health in all aspects, and part of that was helping children to cross the streets safely.
Teaching children from different grades, from Pre-K to 4th grade, and participating in two adult classes were amazing experiences during my second week. During college, I mostly worked with the adult population, but working with children is quite different. I did not know how to present nutrition information to children, especially younger ones because they get bored or easily distracted. I learned by observing nutrition educators, Carissa and Mishelle. I realized that working with children is really fun. One has to be very creative to teach the nutrition information in a simple, but engaging and enjoyable way. I was amazed at the number of teaching tools that UC CalFresh has, like interactive posters to food models, which are very helpful to share your message. Also, I discovered that being very specific with instructions is vital when working with children since all of them are very energetic and want to participate in all activities.
Finally, on my last day, I got to teach a MyPlate nutrition lesson on my own to Hispanic adults. My knowledge, experience, and background helped me to successfully communicate and teach the lesson. I felt great when some of the adults thanked me and told me that they had learned a lot, and were enthusiastic about applying that information to eat healthier.
Providing nutrition education to members of my community has been one of the most rewarding experiences as an intern. Knowing that children are receiving nutrition education so early in life, as well as teaching about health and nutrition to parents makes me realized the importance of programs like UC CalFresh. With their fantastic work, Nutrition Educators are making sure that the diets of the whole family are improved to maintain health by eating healthy.