In an effort to educate students and parents about proper nutrition and exercise, Washington Park School hosted its first annual Healthy Prexie Fair Thursday.
“My goal was to introduce our families to resources available within the Washington community that can help them become healthier,” said Pam Kilgore, a member of the district’s safety and wellness committee, who helped organize the event.
A mix of folks – from doctors and dentist to organic farmers and gardeners – were on hand to chat with parents while healthy snacks were served in the cafeteria. Energetic kids were kept busy with circuit activities run by instructors from the Wilfred R. Cameron Wellness Center and several balloon games overseen by student volunteers from Washington & Jefferson College.
Ada Goroncy, director of food services for Washington School District, also was present to talk about recent initiatives to promote healthy eating habits.
She said the district received a $70,000 state grant for the second year in a row that provides students in kindergarten through sixth grade with fresh fruits and vegetables as an afternoon snack three times per week. Goroncy said the program is meant to expose children to fruits and vegetables they may have never tried, such as kiwis, kumquats and Kumato tomatoes.
“The theory is if you get them to eat this when they’re young, they’ll follow it through for the rest of their lives,” she said.
Among the volunteers were Lauren Horning and Michaela Lies, sophomores at W&J, who are both advocates of eating local and organic foods.
Horning credited the environmental movement for helping to teach consumers about what’s in their food. She said it’s important for kids to realize that there’s a world of possibilities when it comes to their eating habits.
Lies explained that classmates often ask if she went into the forest to scavenge for her dinner, which usually consists of spinach, chickpeas, green peppers, dried cranberries and peanuts. She said her diet doesn’t lead to the sinking feeling people may get after eating too many meats and sweets.
“When you eat healthy, there’s an obvious impact on people’s lives,” Horning said.