Thursday, June 2, 2011

¡Capitán Mineral! ...and other tales of healthy living

As MPI Ecuador team 2010-2011 heads into its final couple of months (I’m sorry, it’s June?!  Where are the long days and warm nights to alert us to summer??  Oh, yes: we left them at higher latitudes.), we are finding it hard to believe it’s been nearly a year since we arrived.  Many of our programs have undergone several incarnations as classes stopped and started again with each quarter or we made changes to meet the apparently changing landscape of our community in the Valley.  However, one program that has followed a steady track since we sat down to meet in August has been the nutrition program at Fundación Aliñambi.

The curriculum we planned for the sixth grade class at Aliñambi is an ambitious one including three components: the garden, the kitchen, and the classroom, interwoven to bring a practical, hands-on element to the theory.  We began in January with the five themes that have governed the class: the cycle connecting food in the earth and its preparation to health in the body, hygiene in the kitchen and food preparation, the food pyramid (which is slightly different in Ecuador from the one that until recently existed in the US), macro- and micronutrients, and foods of Ecuador.  Our Tuesday classes have consisted either of a charla (lecture) or a portfolio entry with which we reinforce the unit we’re in.  Our macro-/micronutrient charla (and subsequent lessons) introduced each nutrient as a superhero or personage that does various things for the body.  The classroom now features a big poster of the food pyramid with colored pictures of food pasted in each category, and each child has in his or her portfolio a personal food pyramid that contains that child’s favorite foods peppered with images of characters like Capitán Mineral, el Rey Carbohidrato, and el Gato Gordo. 

Being able to work with one consistent group of kids over the course of the year has been great for the nutrition team.  I feel like I’ve grown close to them, and it’s been amazing to watch them learn throughout the year.  It will be really hard to say goodbye in July!
Me with our nutrition class on a field trip to Añamisi, our partner agricultural organization, in January.

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