Iowa Farm to School Conference

We came together in search of a common goal–feeding our children fresh, healthy food. And we believe that goal can best be accomplished by promoting farm-school partnerships.

We love food!

There aren’t many things I like better than food. It’s key to good health (eat your veggies). It’s fun to eat (ice cream? popcorn?). There’s nothing more satisfying than baking a loaf of bread or cooking up a tasty stew!

Covid–What Can We Do?

…a sense of belonging is one of the most essential needs of humans. We also need to feel power over our lives, belief in our own abilities and a sense of generosity. Seems to me Covid has challenged our ability to satisfy all of those needs.

Get Healthy

Driving to Florida for vacation, we listened to three books–Connected, Thrive, and Switch. I learned about all of them when I worked with Healthy Polk 2020 last summer. My task was to gather a group of experts around the priority, “Empower more people to take more responsibility for maintaining their health.”

My team thought the wording of the priority judgmental. They took out “responsibility” and raised the bar from “maintaining” to enhancing. Their proposed priority reads, “Empower more people to enhance their health.” By building on strengths, people can leave stymied life roles behind, and move forward through trust-based relationships.

Of the ten Healthy Polk 2020 goals identified in 2009, this is the broadest, and the only one that addresses lifestyle and behavior. That’s where Switch comes in. It’s by Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick, a book I’ve loved, shared, and used as reference for several years. Switch frames research about how change happens around a metaphor of elephant and rider.

All that Priority #8 of Healthy Polk 2020 seeks to change is, well, just the way we take care of our health, not just our physical health. My expert team defined health in broad terms, not just metabolic risk factors or healthy weight, but in terms of mental, spiritual, cultural and financial health. That’s where Thrive comes in.

Dan Buettner has conducted research all over the world, traveling to communities where people live the longest, happiest lives. One result is Thrive. Another is the Blue Zones Web site where it’s easy to spend a chunk of time, learning about yourself, and the things you can do to be healthier and happier. The Expert Team aligned their definition of health with the research of the Blue Zones project, addressing community, flow, meaningful work and other life style choices.

One of the cool things that happened with my Healthy Polk work is that about the same time we were wrapping up our work, Governor Branstad launched the Healthiest State initiative, and Wellmark announced funding for the Iowa BlueZones Project, through which ten Iowa communities will be able to develop tools and programs to live longer, happier lives.

Another gap my team identified was that neighborhoods and communities are not empowered to support and promote health. The action needed to close this gap needs further definition, but the vision is for churches, schools and neighborhood associations to develop networks that support healthy habits. Which is where the third book comes in. Connected explores the profound effect that our friends have on us. The research that caught my eye first is that people who hang out with obese people tend to gain weight. It makes sense, but surprised me nonetheless.

As my team discussed what “more people” meant, they envisioned a ripple effect, beginning with us, and spreading through our community organizations and friends. What do YOU think we need to do to start that ripple? Do you want to be a part of it? Let’s do it!

Love Your Body

There’s been a lot of controversy during the last week about a photo of a “normal woman” in the September issue of Glamour Magazine. Body image is certainly an area that trips a lot of women up, and I am one of them. The blog post about the reaction to the photo talks about how important it is for us to see women who look like us to be able to develop healthy self concepts. Being happy in our own skins is something that most women have to continually work on our whole lives.

The Supergirl Dilemma outlines two areas where girls’ attitudes went backward instead of forward between 2000 and 2006–

  • 84% of girls say they are under a lot of pressure to dress the right way
  • 60% of girls say the most popular girls in school are very thin

Dove’s Self-Esteem has a Toolkit and Resources you may find helpful. Here are some other sites you can take a look at–

  • Memoir to My Former Self–This video, written by 17-year-old Katrina Garcia, explores body image, eating disorders, women’s rights and cliques. It presents several viewpoints and delivers a message of developing a strong sense of self. Some processing questions might be–
    • What are the issues facing the girl in the video?
    • Have you had any similar experiences?
    • How did the video make you feel?
    • How do you feel about being female?
    • What would you do if you were the girl in the movie?
    • What would you do if you were her friend?
  • A Girl Like Me–This movie was directed by Kiri Davis, when she was a teen living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York. The film is about an experiment Kiri conducted based on one from the 1950’s. Her film was featured on Media That Matters and is an inspiration to any young woman or filmmaker, present or future.
  • Shea B. invented the #Freshface Friday campaign to combat the pressure she and her high school friends felt to wear makeup. The Miss Representation Facebook page highlights actions like hers that promote healthy body image. Their Web site has a link to a movie and a lot of other stuff you can do about this important issue.

Venture into Social Drama

Annie Mielke and I met last year and got excited about the potential for working with girls on drama and then training them to work with younger groups as a service project. Annie’s specialty is working with kids with Asperger Syndrome and Autism, so her audiences learn a lot about these mental disorders, the challenges people with these diagnoses face, and how to relate well to them. Adventures in Social Drama visited several Chrysalis After-School groups last year, including McCombs PRIDE.

The goals of Adventures in Social Drama (ASD) are to:

  • establish safe environments in which drama enables individuals to explore creative moments as learning opportunities
  • utilize appropriate forms of social interaction
  • facilitate meaningful participation in a group dynamic
  • coach individuals to express themselves through creative thinking
  • promote positive interpersonal relationships
  • develop self-worth through episodic memories

Adventures in Social Drama specializes in dramatic exploration: Each program is specially designed to meet the needs of your organization. Free initial consultations are available. ASD works with people from 4 years old to adults. Depending on the size and length of the class, the cost is $150-$500.

For more information, contact Annie Mielke, 515-306-0030.