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Thu04242014

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Better health on menu of new North Memphis effort

 

In a large room enlivened with women and children, particularly young mothers with their babies, a nutritionist explained what’s good and what’s bad for the human body. by George Tillman Jr.
Special to the Tri-State Defender

First Lady Michelle Obama was nowhere near the Katie Sexton Community Center last weekend, but one of her key interests was in the neighborhood.

 
 Thanks to a collaboration between the Shelby County Chapter of The Links, Inc. and the Klondyke/Smokey City Community Development Corporation, these students are making an art-health connection. (Photos by George Tillman Jr.)

 
Mrs. Obama is on a nationwide mission to combat childhood obesity, encouraging children to eat healthier and to move. Those twin goals are anchor points in a collaborative program that got underway at the center in North Memphis last Saturday (Oct. 29). The collaborators are the Shelby County Chapter of The Links, Inc. and the Klondyke/Smokey City Community Development Corporation.

The theme for the day was “Meal, Mind and Movement.” In a large room enlivened with women and children, particularly young mothers with their babies, a nutritionist explained what’s good and what’s bad for the human body. And to the obvious delight of many, a tasty and health breakfast treat followed.

Led by Klondyke/Smokey City CDC President Quincey Morris, more than 50 children from ages 5 to 16 attended the kick-off event. They participated in activities such as food preparation, art and Zumba, all designed to focus on nutrition, behavioral change, and exercise. Parents learned ways to encourage their children to choose proper foods and to adopt healthy lifestyles.

As the nutrition session ended, those present funneled into separate rooms. In one, children painted and colored their favorite vegetable or fruit. In the adult session, the focus was on diabetes education.

Dr. Charlotte Kennedy and Dr. Marcia Bowden are the program chairpersons for The Links. They said the project has intrinsic value to community residents and likely will produce a lasting effect.

“The parents and children who participate will receive information on choosing the right foods, food preparation, diseases associated with obesity, and the information of exercise in maintaining optimal health,” said Kennedy.

Bowden noted that the initiative includes gardening to raise “healthy” foods, landscaping and general business expertise associated with becoming economically independent.

“Lack of access to healthy food directly impacts our health. Our community nursery is an attempt to address this problem in our city,” said Bowden.

“This program will not only allow our community to eat better, but to become economically empowered. It is designed to provide instruction in the basic science of gardening and introduction to agribusiness, including landscape architecture, nursery, master garden pathway and general business.”

Ira Marche and John Jackson are among the other partners involved in the effort, which looks to strengthen relationships between senior citizens and elementary and high school students who will become the “roots” for the community initiative.

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