“Pineapple… kiwifruit… bananas”, shout the children. “Do you know how many portions of fruit and veg you should have a day?” asks Year 13 student Tommy Lamb.
The children reply, “One? Two?”
“Not quite” says Tommy.
“Three? Four?” persist the voices.
Tommy is crouched down amongst a group of Te Mata Primary children, patiently listening to their responses as they thread fresh fruit onto kebab sticks. The children are busy enjoying a fun morning learning about healthy food choices with a group of Year 13 girls and their teacher, Mrs Margie Ellis, as part of their NCEA Level 3 Food and Nutrition course.
The NCEA criteria required the girls to devise strategies through inquiry learning to Develop a plan of action that addresses a societal issue around food. Along with direction from Mrs Ellis, the students chose to focus on the high consumption of convenience foods by children in New Zealand. They researched the nutritional needs of Primary school children, societal issues including income versus lifestyle and the ethics around the targeting marketing of food to children.
A first session at Te Mata Primary school covered basic nutrition through activities and lunchbox analysis. This was followed a week later by a Masterchef-style class at Woodford House where the children prepared healthy, fresh food for lunchboxes.
Working with Te Mata Primary School was even more special as the class teacher is Old Girl Kate Todd, who was once taught by Mrs Ellis. Kate currently teaches Room 2 at Te Mata Primary and recently reconnected with Mrs Ellis whose granddaughter, Grace White, is also in her class.
“It was such a cool connection when Mrs Ellis contacted me. I remember doing this project in seventh form (Year 13) and I had just decided that I wanted to study teaching. It reassured me that teaching was something I wanted to do,” Kate said.
Following the practicals, the girls submit individual reports to evaluate their action plan and consider any changes they could have made to improve outcomes. They are also required to consider sustainability and have asked the Te Mata School children to contribute to a recipe book, which the children can keep. A blog has also been set-up so that the Woodford House girls can communicate directly with the children, check on progress and provide support.
Observing this group of young Woodford House women in action, it is clear to see that this experience has been about so much more than nutrition. They have shown a high level of maturity, patience and insight in working with the children. It is also clear how much planning has gone into their activities and how seriously they take their responsibilities as both leaders and educators.
“We want to make sure that you understand how to choose healthy food so that you live for a very long time and get to do some amazing things”, Michaela said as the children were leaving.
Something tells me these kids have got the message, and more than that, they have some new role models to look up to.
Andrea Jackson, Communications and Marketing Coordinator