Pumpkin Games: Celebrating Halloween through physical activity and seasonal food!

Ready, set, go!

Ready, set, go!

Happy Halloween! Here at Apple Corps, we strive to promote healthy eating and physical activity in the schools we work with – Concord International Elementary and Emerson Elementary. Besides cooking up delicious food in our bi-weekly nutrition classes, we also encourage and plan alternative celebrations during the traditionally candy-heavy holidays of Halloween and Valentine’s Day.

At Concord this year, we  decided to honor Harvest’s iconic vegetable through the celebration of Pumpkin Games in students’ P.E. classes. Students played Pumpkin in the Pumpkin Patch (sharks and minnows), balanced pumpkins on their head in relay races, and even estimated the weight of a giant pumpkin and guessed the number of pumpkin seeds. Students with the most accurate estimations won sugar pumpkins, ready for home cooking with a pumpkin soup recipe attached to their stem. None of these awesome activities would have been possible without the collaboration and ideas from

A (pumpkin) balancing act!

A (pumpkin) balancing act!

Concord’s fabulous P.E. teacher!

Our school winners, two first-graders, guessed the weight exactly of the giant pumpkin (108 pounds) and were 11 seeds away from exact number of pumpkin seeds (1231). Congrats!

After the grand finale of Pumpkin Games on Friday afternoon with a class of 30 Kindergarten students wearing pajama costumes, it was clear there were two main take-aways from Pumpkin Games:

  • It is easy, and sooo fun, to incorporate physical activity and even math into Halloween festivities.
  • If you use hair gel, you will be able to balance a small pumpkin on your head with ease.

Transformation Tuesday: So Long Apple Corps Members!

Our pizza spread provided by Tutta Bella for our End of the Year Celebration!

Our pizza spread provided by Tutta Bella for our End of the Year Celebration!

Today marks the final day of service for many (7 of 10) of our Apple Corps Members! Of course, being the food and nutrition focused team we celebrated a year well done with a delicious pizza party provided by Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria this past Friday. We had a great time reflecting over stories of service and sharing the variety of next steps each member has ahead of them.

Although it is bittersweet to have to say goodbye to yet another fantastic cohort of Americorps members, each is moving on to great new adventures. Amongst our team this year, four members will enter graduate school in the fall to study urban planning, public health, nutrition, and health promotions. Several members will be traveling this summer [and beyond] either by foot [backpacking through Europe] or by bike [cross country adventure]. We have members who will continue their work with youth in different capacities, with one member committed to a second year in her current Apple Corps position! And the cherry on top of our “what now?” member update: our most artistic and creative Apple Corps member will begin an intensive year-long program to study the art of circus performance.

It seems appropriate to end another year with a “Transformation Tuesday” not only because our members have grown so much during their 10.5 months of service, but also because they demonstrated a true commitment to transforming the communities in which they worked. By challenging the injustices that affect health and wellness within Seattle our members have worked in community to build greater access to health and nutrition.

As for the Apple Corps Program, we are excited to welcome a new team of members in September/October! We also wish to thank each of our 2013-2014 members for dedicating themselves to serving their community and working towards building a more equitable and just society.

Throwback Thursday: Emerson Celebrates a Year of Successful Composting!

By Lisa Woo

As our Americorps terms comes to an end (July 15th is the last day for a handful of our team members) it is hard not to get sentimental about the past year of service. This end of term is especially nostalgic for me as I complete a two year chapter with the Apple Corps program. So, in honor of the amazing community I have had the chance to work with and all that they have taught me, here’s a little Throwback Thursday!

All year long, students at Emerson Elementary, the site school where I have taught nutrition education, have been exploring their role as Earth Stewards through a school-wide lunchroom composting initiative co-led by myself, and our fellow Apple Corps Member, Randa who served as the Active Play Coordinator. Together, we developed a student-led “Compost Hero” lunchroom monitor program that was able to engaged every student at each grade level. In addition, we held several health promotions throughout the year that allowed students to understand the close connection between environmental and personal health!

Students at Emerson embraced the title of "Compost Hero" with their fearless leader, Ms. Randa, a fellow Apple Corps Member (pictured top center)

Students at Emerson embraced the title of “Compost Hero” with their fearless leader, Ms. Randa, a fellow Apple Corps Member (pictured top center)

One such promotion was our Earth Day: Caught Green Handed Celebration, which challenged students to do good deeds for the earth and identify the ripple effects those acts have on their community. Students enjoyed posing in our “Caught” picture frame and having their photos displayed proudly throughout the school hallways.

gardening

Students turning compost into our school garden beds.

The year ended strong with a final school-wide competition that pitted primary grade levels (Kindergarten, First, and Second) against the intermediate grade levels (Third, Fourth, and Fifth) in a Food Waste Challenge similar to the promotion held at Concord Elementary (see link). The challenge was a great way to wrap up a year of compost education and stimulated great conversation among students about how important reducing food waste is for both our bodies and our earth, despite having a fantastic alternative waste deposit system. Paired with quality time in the garden and hands on worm explorations our final week of composting was nothing short of fantastic!

garden picture

A group of students deeply engrossed in their worm exploration!

Great job, Emerson Eagles!