A community working together can address community needs.
And a Waynesboro community need is decreasing the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.
Augusta Health, Waynesboro Public Schools, the Virginia Cooperative Extension-Augusta County, Project GROWS, Murphy Deming School of Health Sciences and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank are partnering to bring the Get Fresh pilot program to William Perry Elementary School and educate children to prevent diabetes.
For four Tuesdays in October, "Families, Food and Fun” will provide an after-school program of educational activities for children and parents.
On Tuesday, parents got cooking, while their children learned about making yogurt parfait snacks, and about how eating healthy and exercising affect different organs of their bodies.
Krystal Moyers, community outreach director for Augusta Health, said the Get Fresh pilot program came out of the hospital’s 2016 community needs assessment survey, in which was identified the need for diabetes education.
“We felt it was really important to work with the youth population,” Moyers said of fulfilling the community needs assessment initiative.
Moyers said the Virginia Cooperative Extension-Augusta County will provide weekly curriculum at William Perry for kindergarteners as part of the pilot program about fruits and vegetables. Each week, students will learn about a different fruit or vegetable.
A fresh food tasting will be held at William Perry from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday for students and parents.
Field trips to Project GROWS will also be planned throughout the school year for students.
“This we felt was very important because it connects the parents to what the kids are learning,” Moyers said of Tuesday afternoon’s activities.
Not only will children be learning about diabetes education, but hopefully parents will learn as well by doing hands-on activities.
“I think it’s a fabulous partnership,” William Perry Elementary Principal Tammy Hipes said, “and a great opportunity for our teachers and our community to interact with parents.”
The pilot program is “a fantastic opportunity” to try out new recipes and cooking techniques, s he added.
The pilot program will run through May at William Perry, and the long-term plan is to run the program again at William Perry next year, as well as track the progress of students from the pilot program, Moyers said.
“We hope to expand the program, if it’s successful, to other schools and other grades,” she said.
Augusta Health goal is to see the number of students with type 2 diabetes decrease over the school year.
“It’s more or less for my son,” Alisha Jackson of Waynesboro said when asked why she attended Tuesday’s program.
Her son, Desmond Jackson, 10, is a fifth- grader at William Perry, and interested in learning to prepare food and eat healthier.
Cooking in the kitchen with other parents and learning a new recipe was fun, she said.
“We’re here because we like to learn new recipes, and healthier ways of eating,” Jennifer Wright of Waynesboro said. She and her husband, Justin, attended the pilot program. Their son, Nathan, 6, is in first grade at William Perry.
She never would have thought of the recipe she learned in William Perry’s kitchen: chicken with brown rice and salsa, she said.
“We’re just here to learn how to cook a little healthier, simpler recipes, and have a little family time,” Justin Wright said.