Chicago Heights kids thinking with their stomachs
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com April 10, 2013 5:08PM
Updated: May 22, 2013 6:02AM
Children at the Harold Colbert Jones Community Center in Chicago Heights are being asked to think with their stomachs.
It’s part of a program offered by the Young and Junior Medics, which encourages community health and nurtures future generations to become nurses and doctors.
“Generally in America, nutrition is lacking,” said Gerri Virgil, the Young and Junior Medics chair. “We have to be aware of what we eat. After all, we are what we eat.”
The Young and Junior Medics program is funded by the Dr. Charles E. Gavin Memorial Foundation. The foundation is named after the Chicago Heights physician who helped create a neighborhood clinic for the poor in Chicago before dying in 1971 at age 44.
The Young and Junior Medics program also organizes a flu vaccine program for seniors and hosts a flu- and cold-prevention seminar.
The organization has hosted a program for children at the center for two years. About 20 kids take part in the program, which teaches them the importance of etiquette, nutrition and hygiene among other topics. The program is monthly from October to May.
During a March 27 lesson, Virgil quizzed her students about the five food groups: vegetables, fruit, grain, protein and dairy. She handed out cards with different food items on them and asked the children to identify the food groups in which they belonged.
A healthy plate is mostly filled with fruits and vegetables, she reminded them.
The quiz was to lead up to a field trip to Carlo Lorenzetti’s Restaurant in Chicago Heights. There, the students were to order a three-entree meal from a special menu created for them.
Virgil said the goal was to get children to start eating balanced meals, a practice they could continue throughout their lives. Students who ordered the most-balanced meals were to be given prizes.
Isaiah Roberts, 11, said he enjoys the program because he gets to “learn stuff every day.” He also pegged the free meal at Carlo Lorenzetti’s restaurant as a treat.
“I haven’t been to a fancy restaurant like that before,” Roberts said.
The program group also took trips to the Museum of Science and Industry in December and the Bronzeville Children’s Museum in February.