My son's school requested "parent experts" to help their 12 year old students in various topics - including nutrition and health, and sports nutrition! With my recently acquired Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition with Dr T Colin Campbell, I felt bold enough to volunteer my amateur and certified expertise.
During my study, I was inspired by Dr Antonia Demas's Food is Elementary project, which takes a full curriculum on plant-based nutrition straight into the heart of schools. So this offer was too good to refuse.
My offer was quickly and encouragingly accepted - my declaration of knowledge in Plant Based Nutrition apparently did not trigger any alarm bells.
What to Say? How to Say It?
Starting from scratch, I enjoyed the challenge of creating a presentation that was comprehensive but not overwhelming.
I designed a friendly lead-in allowing the children to show what they already knew about healthy food. When I asked, these smart kids already knew that an apple is healthier than a burger, vegie soup healthier than a meat pie, and a potato is healthier than chips. What a relief! We were already friends...
Essential topics included:
- Food and New Zealand Health
- Nutrition and Confusion
- What makes a food healthy
- Plant vs Animal food nutrients
- Protein, Iron, Calcium Myths
- Milk as the Perfect food (got in the breastfeeding angle here)
- Processed Foods and Food Extracts
- Are Humans Omnivores?
- Calorie Density
- Healthy Eating Basics
- Making Changes
- Health in Later Life
- Sports Nutrition (with Vegan Champions!)
This was a special interest group of 7 children, which created a friendly atmosphere. All the children were attentive and several readily responded to prompt questions as well as reacting to various points I made.
This tested out as a full hour presentation and I did not have quite a full hour - it got quite rushed and there are areas that need adjusting. There was no time for questions but it didn't feel like there were any - probably because there was so much new information to absorb and everybody had already heard the bell.
The teacher's response was very encouraging - she was able to relate very well to the health information I presented. She seemed even more pleased after my presentation than before, and I admit I had some fears that my plant-based message might seem threatening.
Lessons for me
- With handholding and encouragement, people can accept the new idea that plant foods are always better than animal foods.
- This presentation was still aimed too old. When I revisit this presentation, I want the kids to be as interested as the teacher.
- This presentation would be great at other schools.