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Digestive Health Month: knowledge for life

This spring, over 1100 primary school children in Chui and Osh regions embarked on an exciting journey to learn more about the digestive system. Acting as guides to the world of healthy food, teachers organized interactive classes for the children with a screening of the animated film "Secret laboratory inside us or how our body digests food" created by the UN World Food Programme in cooperation with the Russian Social and Industrial Foodservice Institute (SIFI) last year.

Digestive Health Month was held from April 19 to May 18 and was timed to coincide with International Day of Families (May 15) and World Digestive Health Day (May 29), one the most important occasions in support of the National School Feeding Programme in Kyrgyzstan.

In addition to classroom hours, the educational campaign included seminars for teachers and a digestive health family festival. All events pursued a common goal – to teach little ones and their parents to opt for well-balanced nutrition to maintain health.

Top-class classroom hours

What can be done to explain to children how digestion, a complex process many adults are unaware of, takes place? Teach in a simple language, use games, animated films, real-life communication, exciting experiments, and associations.
The interactive classroom hour was built on teamwork. The teacher screened a part of the animated film, after which the children discussed it, answered questions, and continued watching. Such activity promoted competition among the children: they did their best to answer the teacher’s questions and perform tasks correctly.
By the end of the lesson, most children could name the organs of digestion and their functions, tell how food behaves after we take it in, and explain the influence of healthy and harmful products on human health.

Talking about healthy eating with parents

According to many parents, they were not optimistic about seminars at first. “Just another teacher-parents meeting,” they thought. To their great surprise, it was quite a different and valuable experience.
In the classroom, they were met by the teacher, who, based on the materials developed by the WFP and SIFI, explained the basics of healthy nutrition to the parents in the format of a conversation and games. They also discussed the principle of a healthy plate, the drinking regime, and how to properly cook dishes to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in products.
The seminars were held in a friendly environment that helped parents carefully examine healthy eating aspects for the whole family and get actively involved in discussions. In Osh school №27, a mother brought a komuz (string musical instrument) and performed some music for the other parents after the seminar.

In Zubkov school (Kant town), parents proved to be well prepared for the seminar: they made a presentation and a healthy fruit and vegetable smoothie they treated to the other participants.
In the end, parents wished such seminars could be held regularly in addition to formal parent-teacher meetings.

Family festival

Digestive Health Month ended with a family festival in Kant Gymnasium №1 (Chui region) and Osh School №27. The event was held in a quest format.
Three teams, consisting of three adults and three children each, were offered to imagine what would happen to vegetables and fruits that go through the entire process of human digestion. To do this, the teams had to go through stations imitating the principal organs of the digestive system and complete tasks related to the functions these organs perform. The team that completed all the tasks the fastest and made the fewest mistakes was announced as the winner.

In both schools, the events were held in sports areas. Before the start, animators ‘warmed up’ the participants with exciting dance flash mobs to motivate them for success.
To fulfill all tasks, the participants had to band together and remember what they were taught during classroom hours and seminars.

Throw ‘an apple’ into the mouth.
‘Grind food’ by breaking a piñata carrot.
Become taste buds and choose healthy products.
Run through ‘food pipe’.
‘Protect stomach walls’ from hydrochloric acid by painting them with the right color and choosing between jars with ‘mucus’ and ‘hydrochloric acid’.
Build the 6-meter intestine with antistress tubes hidden at the station.
Remember the gallbladder’s primary function and ‘break down’ fat for further absorption.
Become the liver and clean the blood from harmful substances by collecting only useful substances (balls) into the bucket.
Divide products into two groups: high-fiber products for better digestion and products with little or no fiber.
All players showed a good game and bravely passed all tests. The winners were gifted backpacks with stationery, healthy lifestyle calendars with interesting stories and tasks, and a recipe book for parents and children developed by the WFP and SIFI. The little fans and other audience were by no means neglected: they received refrigerator magnets “Rainbow in a plate” as a reminder to eat fruit and vegetables during the day.
The festival ended with a motto “Healthy nutrition is fun and tasty!”