Friday, July 16, 2010

Up-and-coming entrepreneurs

Every day I find out a new cool thing going on in one of our Education Department programs. 

Our theme for our After-School Academy (ASA) this summer is Environment. The teachers have done absolutely amazing things with the kids. The last time I walked into the ASA, I wondered aloud why there were a series of about six 8 1/2" x 11" pieces of paper stuck to the low ceiling. I was quickly told that the papers were the kids' effort (guided by Mr. Chris) to Google map Dallas to China so they could begin to understand their ecological footprint.

Another one of our teachers, Ms. Danielle, is working on teaching the kids about nutrition, healthy eating, and gardening. She's done some cooking classes with the kids that are combined with literature, nutrition, and the different academic skills that go along with the cooking. The ASA has also started a walking club that involves families in the program. They are even working with our own Dr. Rhonda (pediatrician) to measure their BMI and such to start seeing improvement as the summer progresses.

So, when the farm stands started this week, it folded in wonderfully with our theme and the teachers' lessons. Danielle Evans (different from Ms. Danielle the teacher) has gotten community members involved to oversee the farm stand every Wednesday from 9:00-3:00. Plans are in the works for our Mid-Teen University boys to begin working with the police department on a service project that would take orders from the seniors in the Roseland Gardens high rise and then deliver their produce on Wednesdays. 

Since we are about education, learning, and knowledge...and since we have a theory that part of the reason people in low-income communities don't eat as many fruits and veggies because of lack of access and/or low-quality and high price in the stores, it was very exciting to me to hear that the kids and teens from our different education programs pulled their quarters together to go buy a bag of 4 apples for $1 so they could have a snack for later in the day. (knowing this is leading us to make plans to have the farm stand later in the day once the school year starts so kids can buy healthier snacks once school lets out).

Finally, it was very exciting to me to walk into the building after lunch on Thursday to see Mr. Chris's class with printouts of fruits and veggies on the tables. I love that Mr. Chris took the idea of the farm stand and created a simulation for the kids to learn how to operate the farm stands (which will lead us to our next project of getting the kids to run their own business and operate the farm stands themselves). You can hear them all discussing how the farm stands work, giving me the pitch to sell their fruit and veggies, and learning ways to make extra money.

Our ASA this summer absolutely amazes me every time I visit. Thanks, crew!