SPARTANBURG — Youth living in Spartanburg have new classes they can attend that teach the importance of making healthy food and lifestyle choices at a young age.
The Northside Development Group began teaching Choose Health: Food, Fun, & Fitness (CHFFF) curriculum in March with 16 students and plan to start lessons again in January for a second group. CHFFF is a comprehensive nutrition and fitness curriculum that’s composed of six lessons.
The lessons are geared toward children aged 8 to 12, according to Gigail Petty, community health worker for the Northside Development Group.
“This is our future,” Petty said. “If we can reach these kids while they’re young and prevent some of the illnesses that their parents and grandparents see, that’s a win for all of us.”
CHFFF was developed by Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 4-H Youth Development Program. The curriculum is intended to be used by cooperative extension educators and those with a background in nutrition. Petty said the classes for Spartanburg are facilitated by Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service’s extended food and nutrition education program. Spartanburg County nutrition educator, Evelyn Santana, teaches each CHFFF lesson.
The first group that started in March met monthly on Saturdays at the Northside Development Group on 501 Howard St. There were lessons on how to read nutrition labels and how to replace sugary drinks with low-fat milk and water. Students learned about eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. There were lessons on eating fewer high fat and high sugar foods. Students also learned the importance of getting 60 minutes of daily active play.
During some lessons, students were taught how to prepare healthy meals so that they could help at home. Each lesson included active games and goal setting.
Petty said one of the biggest reasons she wanted to bring the classes to the Northside is to prevent childhood obesity and chronic disease. Before working for the Northside Development Group, Petty worked as a medical coder. She said she saw what being unhealthy can do to one’s body.
At least once a month, Petty tries to meet with the first group that went through the curriculum to gauge where they are in terms of healthy habits. The group goes on bike rides or walks on the Butterfly Branch Greenway Trail.
“They’re so excited about wanting to learn about nutrition, growing a garden, making healthier choices for themselves and empowering their families to do the same,” she said.
Petty said the Northside Development Group has nutrition programs for teens, and she’s working on creating more programming for adults.