Did you have a mentor when you were growing up? For many children, important role models are developed from mentoring relationships they have with teens or young adults. Studies have shown that youth that have positive mentors in their lives are more likely to stay in school, more likely to have high self-esteem and less likely to have substance abuse issues.
As a proud partner of the Together Counts™ program, we realize how mentor-mentee relationships can also help young people form positive habits around eating and exercise. This is why The Campus Kitchens Project encourages the college students we work with to integrate nutrition education into their interactions with children.
Take the Campus Kitchen at the College of William and Mary, located in Williamsburg, VA. Each week, a group of William and Mary students visits a nearby neighborhood for an hour or more, bringing meals to those who need it and building relationships with the kids that live there. Not only do the students bring meals, they also bring an enthusiasm for healthy living and energy balance. Students with the Campus Kitchen and children spend much of their time together playing games, running around outside when the weather permits and having fun inside if it does not. The hour they spend together is entirely technology-free and focused on being active, an important component to healthy living.
Soon, the Campus Kitchen at William and Mary hopes to take their mentor relationships with these students to the next level and begin activities focused on nutrition education. They plan on discussing topics like moderation, eating meals with family, the importance of exercise and how to shop for healthy foods in the grocery store.
Having a mentor who your child can communicate with regularly – whether it is a college student, a coach, a teacher or someone else – is a healthy relationship for any child growing up. Who does your child consider to be a mentor?
Want to volunteer? Take a look at the list of locations Campus Kitchens has an active presence, or get information on how to start your own. There is no such thing as too many people reaching out to be a positive role model in a child’s life, be it with Campus Kitchens or some organization in your community. Remember, if you are mentoring you have the opportunity to discuss the importance of active and healthy lifestyles. You can be a positive influence!
Founded in 2001, The Campus Kitchens Project is a national organization that empowers student volunteers to fight hunger in their community. On more than 45 university and high school campuses across the country, students transform unused food from dining halls, grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers’ markets into meals that are delivered to local agencies serving those in need. To learn more about The Campus Kitchens Project and to find a Campus Kitchen near you, please visit www.campuskitchens.org.
For more healthy habits to work into your family’s schedule, check out these other posts from Together Counts!