John P. Parker Elementary teaches kids healthy habits, hands-on science

WCPOPublished: August 29, 2017
Published: August 29, 2017

John P. Parker Elementary School has taken a hands-on approach to teaching its students the value of healthy eating, the labor that goes into cultivating consumer produce and the life cycle of various plants -- all with the same project. The school sports a brand new pumpkin patch for the 2017-18 school year, complementing the three-year-old fruit orchard and 10-year-old community garden in which its students have worked, learned and played throughout their elementary school experience. "We're trying to make our students understand that we're a microcosm of the world and you have a responsibility to make a difference," principal Kimberly Mack said. "One of the ways we can make a difference is through this garden." Pre-schoolers at Parker start out by growing plants in their classroom, and students from kindergarten on up venture outside to work on the land. Students such as sixth-grader Anaiah Brooks learn to identify and nurture different plants, including peppers, tomatoes, corn and squash -- and they get to eat them, too. "I love my fruits and vegetables," Brooks said. "They're my favorite thing to eat." Mack said she believed projects such as this one - - especially in communities like Madisonville, where families might have little access to fresh food -- help students develop healthy habits that will last their entire lives. "It's an awesome way to make kids understand the importance of their own health and wellness and the practice they need to have," she said.

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