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Empowering families for healthy eating

From September 11 to 26, eight schools in Batken and Chui regions began the celebration of World Food Day, an international day marked every year worldwide on October 16.

For two weeks, teachers, primary school children, and parents plunged into the world of healthy fruits and vegetables, vitamins and minerals, fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The main goal of the organizers - WFP and SIFI - was to help families develop healthy eating and active lifestyle habits. At the same time, the organizers aimed to present the information comprehensively so that participants could easily apply the new knowledge in their daily lives.

To achieve this goal, we traditionally used an integrated approach. First, teachers were trained to hold lessons for children and seminars for parents. They received a complete educational package on the basics of healthy eating: methodological materials for classes with children (drawings, cards, scripts for mini performances) and step-by-step instructions with the necessary visual materials for hosting a seminar for parents.

Armed with such knowledge, teachers confidently got down to educating children and parents about healthy nutrition.

Transforming homeroom hours into fairytale

Using methodological materials under the topic "Basics of balanced nutrition and a healthy lifestyle" developed by UN WFP and SIFI, teachers led homeroom hours with more than 700 students in grades 3 and 4. They selected activities at their discretion, played games with the children, staged scenes, crafted and painted.

As a result, the children learned in a playful way about the benefits of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat, dairy and fermented milk products and the nutrients they contain. They talked about nutrition, water intake schedule, and the correct ratio of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the diet.

Talking about important things

More than 260 parents attended seminars based on the UN WFP and SIFI-developed "Conversation about a healthy lifestyle and rational nutrition" material. Along with concerns about providing a healthy diet for their children at home and school, parents were also troubled by the cost of school meals. When compared to the standards implemented in their region (7 soms per child daily), several voiced discontent with the extent of the funding given for school feeding in Bishkek (22 soms per child daily). The teachers gave an explanation of how the money for school meals is obtained. Thus, 22 soms from the city's municipal budget are allotted in Bishkek.

They also talked about the quality and taste of the school canteen's breakfast and lunch offerings. Parents were instructed on how to enhance their children's nutrition by joining the quality control committee and assessing the taste of meals cooked for kids, offering comments, and putting forth fresh ideas. They came to the conclusion that it is difficult to provide adequate school meals without extra support from parents.

Parents did not leave the seminars empty-handed. The teachers handed out kits for the quest titled “Mission Possible or How to Defeat an Invisible Enemy” - a fascinating story with codes, riddles, clues, and tasks related to healthy eating and an active lifestyle; when the children completed it, their parents would give them a reward.

Games for children and parents

The final event of the two-week celebration of World Food Day was a family festival held at Lebedinsky school No. 2 in the Chui region and the Gagarin secondary school in the Batken region.

The festival included several playgrounds and a photo zone. Children and parents participated in games and tasks voluntarily. For each completed activity, they received coins - tyiyns, which were later exchanged for valuable prizes: devices for outdoor games, books with stories about the benefits of vegetables and fruits, and healthy lifestyle calendars. The participants were allowed to join some or all activities. The more tasks they performed, the more tyiyns they earned.

It was edutainment to fit every taste. Participants played “Travel with Taste” and “Save the Super Carrot” board games dedicated to balanced nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. They painted figurines of vegetables and competed in active games with jumpers, neuro-skipping ropes, mega-skipping ropes, played twister, French skipping, and a balance board with a labyrinth. Dance lovers enjoyed a flash mob, during which they learned a funny dance with an animator dressed as a carrot.

Intellectual leisure lovers solved tasks related to balanced nutrition. The others passed a quest, searching for treasure, and answered questions about national cuisines. Crafters were busy making water filters.

World Food Day in Kyrgyzstan was celebrated in this way, having fun and learning new things. By October 16, the children and parents from schools in Batken and Chui regions will be knowledgeable enough to discuss the advantages of a balanced diet and regular exercise with their friends, family, and peers.