The gym at Lincoln Elementary School was packed Tuesday morning for a health and nutrition fair aimed to help students learn about how to live healthier lifestyles.
Lincoln physical education teacher Jon Scharpenberg said the fair has been going on for eight years. He said the school realized there was a gap in the curriculum that needed to be addressed.
“For some kids,” he said. “This is their first exposure to foods that are not processed.”
Eric Miller from Parke Creek Farms brought home-grown and store-bought carrots and lettuce to share with the students. Students were able to taste test each and determine which ones were better. Miller said some students have never seen a head of lettuce or full-grown carrots with green tops.
“Kids need to know food comes from farms, not a bag at the grocery store,” Miller said.
He said it is important for kids to learn early and build good eating habits for the rest of their lives.
Sabrina Magdlin, 9, said the fresh carrots were really good.
“They don’t use any fertilizers. They use compost,” she said. “And they aren’t from the store they are farm-fresh.”
Magdlin said the carrots were her favorite part of the fair. She said she was going to tell her parents about fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm.
Kylie Wyatt, 9, said it is better to have carrots from the farm than the store because at the store they cut all the nutrients off.
“I’m carrot crazy,” she said.
Elementary education students from Central Washington University volunteered their time at the fair. Instructor Kris Espinoza said her students teamed up into a group of two or three and chose a health-related topic. They created a booth, activity and prizes for the fair.
“It’s the highlight of the quarter,” she said.
Booths focused on proper teeth brushing, how much sugar is in short- and long-energy foods and the benefits of farm-grown foods. One booth showed students different ways to stay clean and have good hygiene.
“This is information that they don’t get on a daily basis,” said Melissa Taylor, a senior majoring in elementary education at CWU.
She thinks the health fair is a great opportunity for kids.
“I’m hoping they will develop healthier lifestyles,” she said.
Espinoza said she loves seeing her students interact with the elementary students.
“We are in the classroom all quarter long. I don’t get to see them with students very often,” she said. “At the fair I get to see their passion when they interact with students.”
The Lincoln students took a pre-test to challenge their knowledge about healthy behaviors before the fair and will take a post-test to determine exactly what they learned.
Scharpenberg said that not all students learn the same way. He said some learn by reading and writing, but some need to see and touch. He hopes students will realize that being healthy is a lifestyle.
“You can do little changes for big, long-term effects,” he said.