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Healthy Habits Should Start Young

The Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative (CDPI) is a provincial government program designed to help Manitobans combat the three major risk factors that lead to chronic disease: smoking, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating.

Sandy Lake resident Beatrice Hosmann, who grew up in Switzerland, feels that learning to prepare food to sustain ourselves in a healthy manner is more effective if we start early in life and have fun doing it. In Manitoba, although nutrition is discussed in health class in elementary school, home economics, which includes cooking, usually doesn’t start until Grade 7.

So, with the help of grant money from CDPI, Hosmann has been teaching kids to cook for the past three years, in both Erickson and Onanole. Besides the obvious benefits, like learning cooking skills, kitchen safety and facts about nutrition, the Kids’ Cooking Club fosters a long list of developmental skills. Participants use math skills to measure ingredients, social skills are put to good use, and teamwork is encouraged as they work co-operatively toward a common goal – making healthy food. The after-school program begins with a healthy snack, and then the kids put on aprons and get to work.

The children all have their own reasons for joining the Kids’ Cooking Club, but they all agree that it’s “lots of fun!”

Kendra Erickson said she “wanted to learn how to cook and prepare food to serve to other people.” She also thought it might be a skill that would help her get a job in the future.

Raine Minshall said she wants to learn to cook so that she can help her mom, and Abbey Kingdon said she would like to be able to cook something delicious for her mom, dad and sisters.

They all help to set the table, complete with placemats, dishes, cutlery and vases of flowers, and when the meal is done, the children do their own cleanup and uneaten portions are taken home in doggy bags.

In January of this year, Jim Rondeau, minister for healthy living, announced that the government would provide $765,000 in annual funding for the CDPI program, supplemented with an additional $97,500 per year for three years. To date, 83 communities throughout Manitoba have developed and implemented plans falling within the guidelines.

For further information on the Kids’ Cooking Club in Onanole and Erickson, contact Beatrice Hosmann at 1-204-585- 2773. For information on the Chronic Disease Prevention Initiative, go to http: www.gov.mb.ca/health/chronicdisease/cdpi/index.html.

– Candy Irwin writes from Lake Audy, Manitoba

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