Feb 11, 2019

We're Expanding! Panyebar here we come!

Clara with Uri, one of the youngest students
Clara with Uri, one of the youngest students

Back in 2017 Rising Minds piloted our program “Empowering Maya Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future” with our partner preschool CEIBI in San Juan La Laguna. To kick-of the 2019 school year, we’re reconnecting with the Saludos Niños preschool in Panyebar, one of San Juan’s three aldeas. Saludos Niños was founded in 2005 by Aldeas Infantiles. After operating out of the Director’s house for five years, they moved to a new classroom space. Saludos Niños serves 45 indigenous students between 2 and 6 years old. They have class year round and go to school from 8 am to 2 pm.

Over the last month, RM staff members have been conducting in-depth interviews with the Director and teachers of Saludos Niños to determine their most pressing health needs. Among them is the lack of health education. As described in our last project report, health education does not exist in may schools, as many schools lack the resources to employ health educators to deliver adequate curriculum. If existent, health education is often one-dimensional, focusing on the problems without providing accessible, affordable tools to combat or prevent them. Some of the themes that will be covered include personal hygiene and disease prevention and nutrition. Having had great success with our In-School Health Training Initiative with CEIBI, we are excited to start delivering our curriculum to the preschool in Panyebar.

To complement the health trainings we’re delivering to the kids, we are implementing a monthly family health training series. To ensure that kids are empowered to achieve a healthy future, we need to ensure that healthy habits continue at home. Topics covered will include health and hygiene, nutrition, first aid and emergency response, and child and parent development.

We will still continue to deliver weekly health trainings to the 60 students of CEIBI, but we are excited about building our capacity and expanding our reach to other parts of the San Juan La Laguna community.

All smiles for recess
All smiles for recess
Sneaking away from the teacher for a photo
Sneaking away from the teacher for a photo
Nov 12, 2018

Why We Do It

La Olla Familiar - Guatemala
La Olla Familiar - Guatemala

Wow, time sure is flying by. It’s hard to believe another school year has come and gone. The 2018 school year marked the first full school year Rising Minds worked with our partner preschool, CEIBI. After a six month pilot of the program, kicking-off in March of 2017, Rising Minds hit the ground running in January 2018 to continue delivering weekly health trainings to the 60 indigenous preschoolers of CEIBI. With this said, we can’t help but look back on and reflect about why we started this initiative.

Over the course of the last few years, Rising Minds has conducted in-depth community interviews to identify San Juan’s most pressing needs. The most pertinent deficits were those in health education, surrounding issues of nutrition, proper hygiene and disease prevention, and mental health. We found that a lack of engaging education and replicable tools were at the crux of the health-issues facing San Juan, and Guatemala as a whole. Health education does not exist in may schools, as many schools lack the resources to employ health educators to deliver adequate curriculum. If existent, health education is often one-dimensional, focusing on the problems without providing accessible, affordable tools to combat or prevent them. Lacking cultural context, health education is also all too often taught by foreigners who do not speak the local language nor understand the cultural norms. This disconnect, teamed with trainings focused on national statistics rather than specific community needs, further perpetuates these health issues.

So, we decided to do something about it and launched our In-School Health Training Initiative to Empower Maya Indigenous Youth for a Healthy Future. Over the past 1.5 years, Rising Minds has been working to combat these problems by hosting holistic health trainings that cultivate awareness in communities where the majority of children suffer from chronic malnutrition, preventable disease, and a lack of awareness of the importance of mental health. Customizing trainings to address crucial health and nutritional concerns facing rural, indigenous communities around Lake Atitlan is of utmost importance to us.

We are looking forward to improving our programming and strengthening our relationship with students, parents and teachers! Also, we are working on improving and expanding our reach to to the Health Initiative's complimentary programs, which include the RM Educational Garden Program, Forest Playgroup Initiative and Family Wide Health Trainings. As we work to build our capacity over the next few months, we hope you’ll continue to follow along as we embark on the 2019 school year in mid-January!

Planting tomatoes as part of our nutrition unit
Planting tomatoes as part of our nutrition unit
Diego with his new toothbrush! Yay for oral health
Diego with his new toothbrush! Yay for oral health
Eat a rainbow a day!
Eat a rainbow a day!
Aug 16, 2018

Looking Back & Moving Forward

Bonnie, our new Community Health Educator
Bonnie, our new Community Health Educator

Meet Bonnie (pictured above), our new Community Health Educator! Bonnie joined the Rising Minds team in June when Hilda transitioned to our Advisory Board as she began her work with Mercado Global. Bonnie is a student at la Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala and is currently finishing her practical for her degree in Education Administration and Pedagogy.

After shadowing Hilda for the month of May, Bonnie transitioned seamlessly to delivering our weekly health trainings and leading our Forest Playgroup adventures on her own. Bonnie arrived just in time to deliver our trainings for our nutrition unit, which came to an end this past week. As mentioned in the previous project report, the first trainings focused on “la olla familiar,” also known as the food pyramid or my plate. These diagrams represent nutritional guidelines for eating balanced and healthy meals. The oldest students of CEIBI practiced organizing various foods into their perspective groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, fats and sugars), all while learning how often each food group should be consumed. Using their hands as measuring cups, they learned the ideal portion size for each food group and can create a balanced meal. The trainings then covered sugars, proteins, fats, and vitamins.

With the nutrition unit having come to an end, among the preschoolers’ favorite activities were the demonstration of how much sugar can be found in junk food items like Coca-Cola, cookies, and candy bars and a cooking class. The kiddos loved learning how to “plant” and cook vegetable soup! Using recycled plastic bottles, each kid planted tomato and carrot seeds in a bottle to transplant to their garden later. They then had a cooking class where they learned how to make delicious and healthy vegetable soup!

Bonnie and the RM team are now working on the development of the curriculum for our mental health unit! Stay tuned to learn more about the trainings and activities we will host in the coming weeks!

Look how much sugar is in a bottle of Coca-Cola!
Look how much sugar is in a bottle of Coca-Cola!
Lots of hidden sugar!
Lots of hidden sugar!
Yummy soup!
Yummy soup!
"To Plant Vegetable Soup"
"To Plant Vegetable Soup"
 
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