Cambrian: Opinion

Cambria kids on a mission for nutrition in UNICEF program

Members of Sarah Moore’s fifth-grade class show off their wristbands in a display of solidarity to end malnutrition around the world.
Members of Sarah Moore’s fifth-grade class show off their wristbands in a display of solidarity to end malnutrition around the world.

You know, sometimes in this crazy world, you need a spark of hope. Every time I go to the Cambria Grammar School, I seem to find it! My most recent visit didn’t disappoint. Fifth-grade teacher and friend Sarah Moore invited me to see what her kids were up to from March through May – participating in UNICEF’s Kid Power challenge.

Moore heard about the program last fall, checked it out and signed them up through their website.

Our school has found many ways for “kids to help kids” over the years, but this particular concept involved helping our own kids get helped as well, by encouraging them to move their feet! “Named to Time Magazine’s 2016 list of Best Inventions, UNICEF Kid Power leverages easy-to-use technology with kid wearables and classroom lessons to promote global citizenship. Students and teachers everywhere are joining the Schools Kid Power Team, working together to help end global malnutrition” the website states.

Let’s face it, unlike many adults who have learned biases and gotten too hung up on their own problems, kids are always eager and willing to help others. The classroom received a tablet on which to sync and help track the classroom’s activities, a wrist band a la “fitbit” for each student (and the teacher!) and predesigned lesson plans that are curriculum based about the countries they will be helping.

“We’ve been helping by going on ‘missions’ to Haiti, Burkino Faso and now to Sudan. There have been 1.5 million RUTF’s sent out nationwide so far,” student, Javier explained to me. It takes about 150 RUTF’s more than 30 days to reverse their malnutrition!

Other students were eager to explain what an RUTF was, “It’s a peanut protein like peanut butter- and vitamin-packed paste that gives the kids the nutrients that they need to fight malnutrition. They’re eating a lot of food but it’s not nutritious,” David pointed out.

“So far we have saved five lives!”

I felt it was brilliant in and of itself in that they are learning to distinguish between actually feeding your body and just eating! How many people suffer for lack of that knowledge?

What is a “mission?” You can lead your team on missions by completing lessons and activities where you learn about children and cultures around the world by watching videos, learning their games, meeting “Kid Power Champions” from these countries who are helping with the cause. They have “passports” in which they report facts about the country they’re “in,” draw pictures of nutrients such as zinc and calcium or about their experience in that country. Each mission is designed to last about a month, with 30 to 60 minutes of lessons and activities per week.

The wristbands they wear measure their steps (students who were able to attend the annual fifth-grade trip to Yosemite really racked up points), which in turn are added to the class total that translates into the purchase of RUTF’s. Sponsors such as Target, “Star Wars” and others help make this agreement possible by paying for the nutrition packets.

“We learned about a girl who wanted to become a doctor after her brother got sick from cholera,” one student said. “All the kids really wanted to go to school. They said they’d rather starve than miss school!”

I asked if they ever felt that way.

“No!”

So I asked them to try to imagine going one week without a roof over their head, their phones, chips, milk or whatever else they love and have plenty of. Silence. They were trying to …

UNICEF meets representatives in these countries to figure out what is best to grow, helps build facilities to make their own RUTF’s, has the mothers who grow the food sell any extra to bring in more income for their families and helps these countries address this serious issue. With such a program as Kid Power, they are bringing the plight of these people into the sight of our kids in terms they can understand, get them moving and getting them engaged on so many levels it will be hard not to be inspired to help.

As ever, Cambrians rock: “There are 7,774 teams in the nation. We rank 116th!” Mrs. Moore beamed, all her beautiful students also beaming with pride.

“Be active and save lives!” they hollered! KID POWER!

Once again I am reminded, there is hope.

Dianne Brooke’s column appears weekly and is special to The Cambrian. Visit her website at www.ladytiedi.com. Email her at ltd@ladytiedi.com.

UNICEF Kid Power website

Find more information here: https://schools.unicefkidpower.org/

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