Garland Independent School District and the American Diabetes Association have partnered to help students understand the impact of diabetes.
The program, called Project Power, was developed two years ago and was originally a summer program. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the district to reorganize Project Power as a virtual program.
Previously, children attended a day camp where they learned healthy eating habits and exercise routines. They partnered with children who had diabetes and saw what they go through every day.
“It gave kids a new appreciation for classmates with diabetes,” GISD Nurse Tonia Fields said. “It gave them a new outlook on health and wellness.”
Fields, who suffers from diabetes herself, is the district’s diabetic educator. She said the summer program was well received by both students and parents. After attending the program, Fields said several students told their parents they needed to change their diet and get more exercise.
The camp is now virtual but will feature similar activities as the in-person camp. Students will play games, receive cooking demonstrations and learn the signs of diabetes such as increased thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision and hunger fatigue. Even though the program is now virtual, fields said students are still getting good information on exercise and healthy eating habits.
Several students have come to Fields at school who were in the summer program and told her they are still friends with other students they met at Project Power. Because of this, it was decided to keep students in the same groups if they had previously attended a session.
Fields said the cooking demonstrations were nothing extravagant, but ways to make food preparation and cooking more exciting and fun. One activity stood out to her though. Students would take grapes, banana and strawberries and then cut them and make people out of them.
Fields said activities like this not only teach children healthy eating habits, but encourage creativity, critical thinking and hand-eye coordination.
“You have to get the knife out to cut up the fruit,” Fields said. “Now mom and dad are involved.”
Fields wants families involved. She said if they can get in with the kids, then they can get in with the family.
Field said the program is great for parents who are having a hard time finding activities for their children. She said it’s wholesome and educational.
Students who register for the program will receive a package with a program t-shirt, activity journal, chef plate, tote bag, water bottle, jump rope and a portion plate.
“We’re a family. We’re not just a school district that focuses on the children,” Fields said. “We also take care of our families. We want them to be healthy.”
Volunteers are needed. More information can be found at diabetes.org/projectpower.
The next session will take place Nov. 3 through 21, but more are planned for the future. Students will meet virtually Tuesdays at 5 p.m. or Saturday at 12 p.m. The deadline to register is Monday Oct. 26. Those interested can register at diabetes.org/projectpower.By By Dustin Butler • [email protected]