Learning what, what not to eat

HARLINGEN – Amanda Cariaga sliced bananas and strawberries for a yogurt parfait, one of many tasty and healthy foods being served this week at a summer camp.

“In the lesson they teach other ways to power up your day,” said Amanda, 16, one of five “health ambassadors” working with third- to sixth-grade children. The ambassadors at the Free Nutrition Summer Camp were teaching 17 children how to stay healthy through better food choices and exercise.

“I think it’s going very well,” said Guadalupe Castro, 4-H coordinator of the program, which began Monday and ended yesterday.

The event was at the Harlingen School for Health Professions.

“The objective is to do community outreach to youth from elementary and middle school on nutrition,” said Castro, the 4-H agent for Prairie View A&M University College of Agriculture and Human Sciences. The college created Heroes 4 Health, a statewide program. The event at HSHP is part of that program.

In the education class, health ambassadors taught the children about different food groups and how to read nutrition labels on groceries. They also presented food demonstrations and led them in exercise activities.

“Hey cheater!” shouted a boy in the school gym as Health Ambassador Jacob Fraga, 16, led them in a game called “Sharks and Minnows.”

Children with the minnows raced toward the other end of the gym. Their shoes made a cacophony of slapping sounds as they darted back and forth, trying to avoid being tagged by the sharks. One girl in a flowered top gave herself a High Five for avoiding the sharks.

“We made it,” said Anabel Perez, 11.

“It’s kind of hard because all of us are fast,” she said, catching her breath.

Keyshawn Dinn was another minnow who had avoided being tagged.

“When someone came toward me I out-juked him,” said Keyshawn, 10. “Juked” means darted away.

He’d been enjoying the activities of the past three days, especially the sports.

“I like it because it makes you run,” he said. “And then you have food demonstrations.”

Earlier in the day they’d enjoyed quesadillas with black beans and broccoli. Keyshawn also recalled another demonstration in which power nuggets were made with Reese’s peanut butter cups and other ingredients.

The Harlingen school district provided the food for the demonstrations. Amanda filled the glasses with her yogurt parfaits to present them as a healthy choice for school.

“This is something that can be made at home,” she said. “It can get them started for the day.”

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