Food Ninja Engagement 1 & 2

25 August 2014

The first weekend of the Food Ninja program in PPR Kota Damansara took place on the 9th and 10th of August. On Saturday, we had 30 children aged 8 – 12 join us for the first engagement activity. We anticipated a high number and prepared ourselves as best as we could for the crowd. Everything was done systematically, from entry to where they placed their shoes to registration. Based on our previous interactions we had learned that its best to have a system the children can follow for each and every engagement to keep things moving along easier.

Once the children had settled down, we started with an ice breaker. We separated the children into groups of 10 and played the name circle game, a simple but fun way to quickly get to know each others names and faces. We had a much harder time remembering their names which goes to show how sharp young minds can be!

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The children and their postcards

The first food ninja activity of the day was ‘Around the World with Food’, to focus on carbohydrates and to introduce the children to the international interns. We wanted to emphasize foods that contain carbohydrate by talking about breakfast and foods we need to eat a lot of in order to have enough energy for the day. We played a short video that explained the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates and how complex carbohydrates gives you energy.

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What do you have for breakfast?

We started with a short presentation by each of the interns on their country and breakfast. We decided to introduce ‘postcards’ as a teaching tool, on one side of the post card was a picture of one of the five different countries, on the other we left space for the children to write their name, age and to draw what they have for breakfast. We first got them to colour in the country side of the postcard and then to fill in the back of the postcard with help from the volunteers.

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My Plate colouring

We also introduced the My Plate system, a children-friendly tool to talk about the different food groups and the portions needed on a daily basis and the different nutrients each food group provides. The children were first asked to color in different types of food to stick onto their very own My Plate and were then guided through what types of food fits into the different parts of the plate which includes a dairy section, fruit, vegetable, meat, nuts and beans and a grains section. Once they had completed their MyPlate we also gave a short introduction on the nutrients of different food groups using Sponge Bob cartoons to emphasize strong teeth in the dairy section and muscles for the meat and nuts section.

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Finished My Plates – first page for the children’s ‘workbook’ that gets added to at each engagement

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On the second engagement day  we started in a similar way, ice breaker – this time with a ‘Who am I?’ game. We realised grouping was an essential process in conducting the program, ensuring we have groups with a balance in age and gender. And to an extent race, as it was one of our aims to promote toleration between different races. Each group was designated a food group and in each group the children were given a sticker of a food type which they had to guess by asking the rest of the group yes or no questions. This was a fun way to learn about the variety found in the different food groups.

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Incorporating a healthy snack for each engagement

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‘Who Am I?’ guessing game

The objective of engagement 2 was to teach the children about the types of food we need to eat more of and less of on a daily basis. It was evident from the start of our engagements that the children had easy excess to unhealthy cheap junk food found in nearby stalls, we wanted to talk about to effects of eating such foods and to compare it to foods we should eat more of. We did a simple mapping exercise by getting the children to bring some food wrappers in for the second engagement day.

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Eat more, Eat less performance by Will and Ahmad

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Ninja Amy Wrapper slashing activity

We started by doing a short presentation of the effects of eating foods that are healthy and unhealthy by getting Will and Ahmad to act out what happened when they ate such foods. Will exemplified strength and energy by running around the room and lifting heavy objects while Ahmad acted slow, tired and weak in comparison. We then introduced Ninja Amy, who detests unhealthy foods and would slash unhealthy wrappers. Using a board labeled ‘eat more’ and ‘eat less’ we asked the children to line up with the wrappers and await the verdict of Ninja Amy of where they could place their wrappers.

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Unhealthy monster collage

We ended the day with a collage activity, getting the children to take turns in creating an ‘unhealthy monster’ which would then be decorated with using the unhealthy food wrappers. We first did a quick drawing exercise by passing around pieces of paper for children to draw on to design a monster together. The idea was to ensure children did not feel insecure in drawing and to feel free to explore as much as they wanted to. The end results were pretty spectacular and scary monsters!

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You can also keep track of this project via AIESEC Sunway’s THUMP Webpage.

Yasmin Lane is the research lead at #BetterCities. She graduated with a degree in International Relations and has since shifted her interest from the people and institutions that make up the city to learning new ways of shaping and improving the structures of the city itself.