By Molly Costigan
AmeriCorps VISTA - Community Health Organizer
Sustainable Food Center partners with Marathon Kids to engage with parents, staff, and community members at partner elementary schools and facilitate the formation of wellness teams that participate in health and wellness activities. Wellness teams reach out to SFC for resources and programs, such as healthy cooking classes or school garden trainings. Leaders on the wellness team organize regular meetings and activities, and engage the school community in health and wellness issues.
Norman Elementary parent leader Philimena Dickson, has been involved with Cultivating Healthy Communities for almost three years. Through the wellness team, she has attended SFC’s The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre® cooking class, Basic Organic Gardening class, and School Garden Leadership Training, and she and her family have helped with the installation and maintenance of a community garden at nearby St. James Episcopal church. She also participates in SFC’s Spread the Harvest program for her own family’s garden.
Why did you get involved with Sustainable Food Center and Marathon Kids?
It was definitely the gardening. We had a garden at our home, and I like gardening and knowing that you get fresh food from the garden and can feed your family well.
It is a struggle because sometimes you have sweets and the sweets are not good for you. Or you want to have something quick so you do not have to cook. But once you decide to train yourself you can see what you need to have energy all day.
What are some of your favorite things to grow?
Kale and tomatoes. I have tomatoes right now, at least three of them, that are ready to go into the ground. I will have to try again with carrots. If I have the right type of lettuce, like romaine, then I grow it too. We have cabbage now, and that is a favorite, and onions are pretty good. I would like to grow red onions.
What are some things that you have done here at the school or the church garden?
I am on the wellness team and get information out to the community and the parents. I am talking to more parents about what we do on the wellness team and what we are here to do for the community.
What are some of the things that you have learned as a wellness team leader?
I have learned more about how to communicate with people. If I learn here, I learn in my personal life, like how to keep the information that I have going and then pass it on or keep it on paper—and also trying to put it into the computer. I am starting to use the computer to keep up with names of wellness team members. It is a learning process and I am learning how to be an organizer. When I started I did not know how; I was shaking in my boots!
Why is this important to you?
Because I see how it helps my family, and we all have a healthier diet now.