Saturday, April 20, 2013

Helping Young People Grow While Showing Them How to Grow Food

Normally, kids don't like to eat their vegetables. It's just not as much fun as hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and potato chips and ice cream. But let those kids "get dirty" and dig big holes in the ground and then plant seeds in the soil and watch those seeds sprout into carrots, tomatoes and peppers,  and their eyes light up. That was how youth in the Kentland Community reacted today when the Brothers of Gamma Pi kicked off spring with a "groundbreaking" event to demonstrate the concepts of gardening by helping youth plant their own garden. Over the next few weeks, the youth will check on and water their gardens and watch dirt turn to nutritious vegetables.

The youth are part of Que Kidz, a special ongoing monthly outreach and enrichment program for disadvantaged children sponsored by  Gamma Pi chapter. Sister4 Sister, a local social service organization also operating in the county, and Patuxent Nursery, jointly sponsored the April 20 groundbreaking with Gamma Pi. Coincidentally, it was timed with Earth Day which is April 22.

During today's program, the youth were able to out into practice what they have learned in recent months about gardening and healthy eating. Those lessons came to life and they were excited. They ripped open plastic bags of soil and poured the contents into planting sacks. They held tiny seeds in their hands. They dug holes and lowered the planting sacks into the ground and even dded a little water. It became "hands on." The weather was just right for gardening. It was a clear, sunny day with just a little breeze.

The focus of QueKidz this year has been the importance of adding healthy foods and natural foods to the diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Along with that lesson, the children, ranging in age from 8 to 13, have been exposed to soil cultivation and where fruits and vegetables come from. Their parents may bring them home from Safeway and Gian and other markets, but they start out as seeds in the ground. A few weeks ago the youth were treated to an exciting field trip to the nearby  Patuxent Nursery.

“Many of the youths in this community have never seen or heard of a garden, and what we hope to accomplish with this project is not only to expose them to gardening, but to heighten their curiosity about things they don’t know about which keeps them yearning to learn,” said Brother Orlando McDowell, organizer of QueKidz and a member of Gamma Pi chapter. “Kentland kids generally do not have the same opportunities to get out and enjoy wholesome learning and enrichment activities on a Saturday morning as do kids in more prosperous communities.” The video segment above is one of several posted on Gamma Pi's YouTube channel.

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