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Healthy Eating Habits

13 Apr

By: Jessica Bright & Dr. Celeste Philip

Edited by: Talise Jager-Sumner

As a chef and cooking instructor I have a front row view of how many people feed themselves and prepare their food. It is very interesting to see the many different philosophies that are practiced but quite often, the most common theory I see (particularly in younger diners) is that what you eat and how it is prepared really doesn’t matter very much, as long as it tastes good.  Without any evident health concerns a frightening majority of our population thinks that they can eat what they want whenever and however they want it.  “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” tends to be the theory many people practice when they make decisions regarding their personal eating habits.

In addition to being a chef I am also a mother. I want my children to not only feel good and look healthy; I also want their brains functioning at their maximum ability as they go to school and complete their tasks.  What if little decisions like what you drank with breakfast (or even if you had breakfast) could totally change how your brain worked for the first three hours of school each morning?  Would you think a little more seriously about whether you opened a can of your favorite cola or poured a glass of water?  You know how sleepy and tired you get in that class after lunch each afternoon… there is actually a reason.  The next time you have that painful urge to close your eyes for just a few minutes (but are caught and embarrassed by your teacher) I bet you will wish you had made a few decisions differently at lunch that day.

Every day of our lives, most of us ride around in a very complex machine with four wheels and a motor. Even though we may not be mechanics we know- you need to put unleaded gas in the fuel tank, oil in the oil tank, and air in the tires.  If you decide you are in a hurry and don’t have time to stop at a gas station you cannot casually decide to just substitute water or some other liquid for the gas.  Your car is going to protest, you can ruin the engine.  In addition to the fact that you need fuel, the actual quality of the fuel also matters.  Most people who have been driving for a while have a story about the time they ended up with “bad gas” and had to deal with engine trouble.  I once accidentally pumped regular gas into a diesel engine… it was “good” gas, but that engine needed diesel and would not even START.

If you have your own car, or a dreaming of soon owing one I’m willing to bet that you are convicted to take very good care of it. Cars are EXPENSIVE and important.  Not having one available can mean that you cannot go where you want to go, hang out with your friends, get to work (to pay for that car), and maintain your busy schedule.  Owning a car is a huge investment in a thing that requires care, specific input, and upkeep.  You want your vehicle to last as many years as possible.  Especially since there are so many little things that can go wrong, so many functions that are necessary like spinning wheels, cool air conditioning,  tunes on the radio, and functioning breaks (just to name a few).

Even if you don’t have a vehicle; you do have a means of transport that requires regular fueling. And unlike with an automobile… you aren’t going to be able to trade this one it in or sell it if things start to decline, you simply cannot buy another.  If you think the engine under a hood is complicated you should just see all of the things that this system can do.   It grows, thinks, maintains a constant temperature, gets you around, and does a few million other things every day of your life.  Shouldn’t you take a moment to think about what sort of fuel you are putting in your body and what it is going to do for your performance, today and for the rest of your life?

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CIS Summer Camps of 2015!

27 Jul

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For most students, summer is a much needed time off from school, a chance to relax and rest after 180 days of classes and homework. Unfortunately, summer is also the time where students are most likely to fall behind and lose the knowledge they worked so hard to gain during the school year. According to a study done by the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math skills over the summer months, and low-income students tend to lose more than two months in reading achievement. This phenomenon, known as the summer slide, can be detrimental to students and their education. That’s where local non-profit Communities In Schools of Jacksonville (CIS) comes in. Throughout the school year, CIS works directly in schools to help students grow and stay on track. During the summer, CIS hosts camps at 24 different Duval County Public schools locations, encouraging and enabling students to take advantage of the summer months at no extra cost to them or their families. This year’s camps were top-notch, providing the educational enrichment needed to keep the kids on track as well as exposing them to amazing experiences.

At 21 school locations, CIS hosted TEAM UP summer camps funded by the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, which were open to Duval County students grades K-8. Each morning, students would focus on academics, receiving instruction from certified teachers, and in the afternoons, students enjoyed leisure activities and field trips. This year’s camps were an overwhelming success, and while it would be impossible to list all the highlights, here are just a few: CIS partnered with 21st Century Community Learning Center to open a new program at Windy Hill Elementary School, which reached its goal of 100 students in attendance; twin students who are deaf from Fort Caroline Middle School taught sign language to their fellow campers; Highlands Middle School hosted “Come Together Days,” where students from several different TEAM UP sites enjoyed communal cookouts and other activities; students at these camps also enjoyed visits from various companies and high-profile individuals. JEA visited Pickett Elementary School, teaching students how to conserve energy at home and the benefits of LED lighting. At a literacy fair, held for several TEAM UP sites, Vincent Taylor, author of the Cornbread series, stopped by to visit with students and donated his entire series for each student to take home. Actor and singer Tony Grant visited Ribault Middle School, where he performed, interacted with the students, and watched student performances. The highlight of this visit was a surprise offer by Grant’s friend, Lady Toussaint, who offered a group of dancers the chance to open their theater show. On Sunday, July 19th, the girls danced on the stage of The Ritz Theater and Museum, opening for the hit theatrical soap opera, “Something Miraculous Episode 4.”

CIS also hosted two S.T.E.M. camps, one at A. Philip Randolph Academies of Technology and another at Ed White High School. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation awarded CIS with a $12,000 grant, making both of these camps possible. These ten day camps served approximately forty kids at each site and provided them with math, science, and general enrichment. Students at both sites had access to resources from NAVAIR, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, and Jacksonville University. The students also went on tours of manufacturing facilities, so they could see what they were learning in action. The highlight of these two camps was a visit from Bank of America representatives in the Women in Technology program to A. Philip Randolph. The representatives guided students in a collaborative activity where they formed groups and were tasked with creating their ideal city of the future. Each group listed what they wanted to include and then put their ideas on paper, drawing an overhead view of the city. The groups were then judged by their peers and the Bank of America representatives to determine who had created the best city.

At the final camp location, Ribault Senior High School, 32 students participated in the Aviation Career Education (ACE) camp. This one week camp was packed full of incredible instruction and activity for its students. On Monday, the students visited UNF where they engaged in classroom instruction and used the Zip Line; the following day, they visited Florida Air National Guard (FANG) where they were able to see bomb gear, fire and rescue trucks, etc. Wednesday morning, they visited Hillard where Air Traffic Control Tower professionals provided the students with an extensive job shadowing tour. The following day, students visited the Jacksonville Airport where they went on a behind the scenes tour for personnel, luggage, operations, and security. On Friday, the students visited Cecil Air Fields and the FSCJ Center where they worked with ATC simulators (flying a plane-like experience), took a tour of the US Customs’ planes, and visited the hangers where they could see how planes are repaired. This exciting week culminated in Saturday’s events where the students visited Craig Executive Airport and participated in an orientation flight in a Cessna style plane, alongside a certified pilot. This nationally recognized program offered students an introduction to the aviation industry and careers, while simultaneously providing them with a once in a lifetime experience.

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Whether students wanted to design futuristic cities, fly planes, or simply keep up with their education, Communities In Schools of Jacksonville was their to provide those opportunities. With the gracious help of sponsors and funders, CIS was able to host 24 successful summer camps, helping to deter the effects of the summer slide and encourage students to make the most of their summers.

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