Optimum Health Solution, a nonprofit organization directed by Betsy Bragg, in 2008 launched Real Kids Real Food as a pilot program in the Boston area in reaction to the overwhelming statistics on childhood obesity and chronic illnesses.

MISSION AND VALUES

  • To prevent obesity, chronic disease and malnutrition especially in children through education and advocacy of healthy living
  • To educate children and their families on the relationship between the food they eat and their overall health and wellness
  • To engage children in hands-on learning of growing, harvesting, and preparing their own fruits and vegetables
  • To provide a fun environment that includes physical exercise and emotional wellbeing
  • To make a difference one child at a time

 

PROGRAM STRUCTURE

Real Kids Real Food is built as an afterschool program for extended day elementary school children grades 1-6. Age appropriate curriculum is designed around three components: 1) nutrition: the benefits of healthy foods, proper nutrition, healthy habits, and prevention of chronic disease; 2) emotional wellbeing: chronic stress prevention and intervention; and 3) disease prevention: obesity prevention and reduction of diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease. Real Kids Real Food is taught by certified health instructors with the support of university interns in public health and/or education. They are CORI approved.

NUTRITION COMPONENT

  • Hands-on, integrated, and effective educational activities, short quizzes, and weekly reflections and the introduction of new recipes including the nutritional benefits of the ingredients
  • Empowerment of children to make nutritious choices
  • Opportunities for older children to experience reading nutritional labels and shopping within a reasonable budget
  • Development of healthy habits such as washing hands and cleaning up
  • Education of parents regarding healthy and affordable grocery shopping techniques
  • Experiential learning trips to local venues such as Whole Foods, local farms and farmer’s markets

EMOTIONAL WELLBEING COMPONENT

  • Expanding knowledge and implementation of physical activities
  • Aerobic instruction, skits and games
  • Discussions and reflecting
  • Promoting positive body image
  • Mindfulness

DISEASE PREVENTION COMPONENT

  • Infrastructure and/or policy work
  • Food/nutrition programming
  • Physical activity
  • Promoting healthy after-school snacks and healthy parent potlucks