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By Catherine Kau, DC Secondary School Program Intern
Photos Courtesy of Alex Cena, AALEAD Staff

This past Tuesday, I finished my three-week workshop on nutrition by giving my last lesson. Tuesday’s activities centered around the 2011 National Nutrition Month (NNM) theme: Eat Right With Color. I chose this theme in order to encourage students to include a colorful variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy on their plates every day. I wanted them to understand that having a colorful plate at each meal is not only healthy but can tasty. Since this was my last workshop with them, I started the lesson by reviewing my past leadership and nutrition workshops with a Jeopardy game. Going over the main topics covered in each past lesson helped the students prepare for Tuesday’s activities.

The main activity of this workshop was a blindfolded fruit and vegetable taste test. A blindfolded student from two teams tasted a fruit or a vegetable and the one who correctly identified the food the fastest received a point for their team. I chose fruits and vegetables that I thought would have been harder for students to guess but that also tasted fairly good. It was fun to see the students really get into the competition and gain a greater inclination towards different fruits and vegetables. “The students were ecstatic when we mentioned that the workshop had a food component,” said AALEAD high school volunteer Jackey. “They had fun doing the blindfolded plate test as they tried different fruits and veggies like mangoes and snow peas.”

The next activity was a team commercial. Two teams of students chose one fruit or vegetable that they tasted in the main activity and presented a short commercial stating why people should consume it. The teams had to mention the taste, texture, color, and health benefits of the fruit or vegetable that they were advertising. I enjoyed seeing their imagination and public speaking skills being used, and the presentations were fun, creative and informative!

It has been such a fun and rewarding experience leading the nutrition workshop series to AALEAD middle school students. They are a great group of youth and I will treasure the time we have had for many years to come!

By Sharon Choi, AALEAD Staff
Photo Courtesy of Ryan Ball & Sharon Choi, AALEAD Staff

On Saturday, April 27, 50 AALEAD youth, mentors and staff joined other community members for Comcast Cares Day at the Cezar Chavez Public Charter School in Northeast DC. Participants had the opportunity to help beautify the Chavez school as well as a neighboring elementary school by painting, picking up trash and working on landscape surrounding the schools. AALEADers spent their time painting walls and creating inspirational murals and university/college flags inside of the buildings.

With beautiful weather all day, the AALEAD family enjoyed a delicious lunch outside together!

Providing opportunities for giving back to the community is important because they reinforce the value of civic engagement. We hope that by giving our youth opportunities for community service, they will not only find the experience rewarding, but learn to value the importance of community building and support now and in the future.

Thank you Comcast for giving our youth an opportunity to give back to their community!

MD Middle School: April Highlights

By Melor Suhaimi, AALEAD Staff
Photo Courtesy of Melor Suhaimi, AALEAD Staff

I still can’t believe April is coming to an end! April has been filled with activities and field trips:  Maryland MS AALEADers continued to learn about Asian countries in “Countries Week Part II,”  discussed the importance of cleaning up our parks, wrote poems for Earth Day, and visited our Maryland HS AALEADers at Blair!

For “Countries Week Part II,” Malaysia was one of the countries highlighted.  MS AALEADers discovered that the Malaysian kite is one of Malaysia’s national symbols and were then given the opportunity to make and fly their own kite (all you need is paper, string, and a hole puncher!)  It was great to spend a wonderful spring afternoon flying colorful & bright kites.

To lead up to AALEAD’s MD Park Clean-Up event in the beginning of April, MS AALEADers made posters to describe the importance of keeping our parks clean and trash-free!  And on April 22nd for Earth Day, MS AALEADers were given the opportunity to be poets!  Youth were paired up, asked to make a poem about Earth Day, and each pair presented their awesome and creative poems.

Lastly, as Ryan mentioned, it’s always fun to hang out with our Maryland HS AALEADers!  This past Monday and Wednesday, Argyle and Loiederman AALEADers visited Blair High School for a tour of the school and to have some bonding time.  On the way back to Loiederman after the trip to Blair an 8th grade Loiederman AALEADer said, “It’s always nice to see a familiar face.   And I can’t wait to go to high school!”

Enjoy pictures from this month’s MD Middle School program at Loiederman and Eastern:

By Catherine Kau, DC Secondary School Program Intern
Photos Courtesy of Alex Cena, AALEAD Staff

This past Tuesday, I continued my three-week nutrition series by giving my second workshop. Tuesday’s activities centered on the 2008 National Nutrition Month theme, Nutrition: It’s a Matter of Fact. Since there is so much information about nutrition out there, I wanted the activities to debunk nutrition myths and to make choosing healthy food options easier. The first activity was a food labels activity in which two teams had to locate the calories and sodium on six different cereal labels. Besides locating these nutritional facts, they had to rank them in increasing order. We went over the consequences of low and high amounts of calories and sodium. In addition, I asked the students to note the serving sizes on the food labels. I did this not only because of its importance but also due to the fact that serving sizes often bear little resemblance to the amount that people consume. I showed the amounts with measuring cups, and the first team finished got one cup of Kellogg’s Froot Loops Cereal!

The second activity was a portion size matching game. Since portion sizes have become huge over the years, I wanted to make sure that the students know the actual measurements and its equivalents. The third activity was intended to reinforce the five food groups to the students. The students in each team picked a food group and a letter; they then had to write down as many food items that started with that letter. The team that came up with the most food items got a point. Students were challenged by coming up with foods from certain letters, but they also surprised me with their creativity of coming up with items. The final activity was the Jeopardy game based on the myths and facts about nutrition which was developed and led by a high school student. The students had to determine whether commonly heard nutrition statements were myths or facts. An example that was used was whether skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

Students were engaged in the activities and learned more about food labels, portion sizes, the five food groups, and nutrition facts. At the end, a high school AALEADer volunteer Jackie, said, “I think the workshop went really well. The kids were all hyped up to learn about nutrition by making it a competition! Getting Froot Loops as a reward was an added bonus!”

I feel grateful to have been given this opportunity to teach these students about healthy eating. I cannot believe that I only have one more nutrition lesson left, but I am excited for it!

SAALT Summit Inspires DC AALEAD Youth!

By Bhadon S., AALEAD DC Youth Council President &  Secondary School Program Youth
Photos Courtesy of Surjeet Ahluwalia, Executive Director

Editor’s Note: Our DC Youth Council President Bhadon S., had a great opportunity to attend South Asian Americans Leading Together’s (SAALT) National South Asian Summit 2013 last weekend with our Executive Director Surjeet Ahluwalia. Below is a reflection piece from our youth on his experience! We are so inspired and energized by Bhadon’s growth and words!

The whole SAALT experience was absolutely wonderful. I thought it was going to be great, but “great” would be considered an understatement. My experience started Friday night, April 19, at the Change Maker’s Award ceremony where I had a chance to meet the recipients. I came out with a stronger yearning to change the world, because I learned that one can’t wait for change, they have to create it.

The next day, I admit I was a tad bit nervous. The opening was great! I had discussions with many people on the importance of activism. After the opening, there were a variety of workshops to attend. The first workshop I attended was on an issue I have researched and presented on before: domestic violence and the importance of integrating the male’s voice in support of these issues. I found advice from one of the speakers, Ramesh Kathanadhi, especially helpful.

After the first session, it was my turn to be a speaker at the event. I had a great time talking about my personal experience with bullying and education. I really felt at home discussing education equality and answering questions from the audience. After our session was finished, I was approached by multiple people wanting to discuss the topic further.  It was a great networking opportunity! After the lunch, we had the opportunity to discuss the growing amount of South Asian Americans getting involved in politics. The next session was wonderful. I learned about xenophobia and language rights in the community. The closing was a discussion about our community moving on from the Oak Creek Massacre.

At the end of the day, I decided that in order to get my voice heard, I would join the political arena when I get older. I really want to be a pinnacle of change by being an activist for the rights of all.

By Ryan Ball, AALEAD Staff
Photos & Video Courtesy of Ryan Ball, AALEAD Staff

This week Middle School AALEADers at Argyle and Loiederman Middle Schools journeyed over to visit AALEAD programs at Blair High School!

Blair AALEADers have been preparing for a couple weeks to make the visit both educational and fun.  Upon arrival, Middle School students were split into groups and taken on a tour of the school by high school leaders.  They were also given a chance to ask anything and everything about the high school experience, from social life to academics, sports and school culture.

Finally, the groups came back together to play an exciting game of Elves, Wizards and Giants! This game is rock, paper, scissors on a larger scale, with students acting out their choice and the winners attempting to tag the loser and convert them to their team. See a short clip below.

Overall the purpose of the visit is to promote community between different age groups, give high schoolers a chance to show leadership and help make that first day of high school just a little less scary for middle schoolers.

By Catherine Kau, DC Secondary School Programs Intern
Photos Courtesy of Sharon Choi, AALEAD Staff

This past Tuesday, I began a three-week workshop on nutrition for DC middle school students, focusing on a National Nutrition Month (NNM) theme. Tuesday’s activities centered around the 1987 NNM theme: Good Nutrition-A Personal Choice. The goal of the lesson was to show that nutrition is one’s personal responsibility, and that it is important to evaluate different food choices in order to choose the best kind that fits with one’s lifestyle.

The first activity was called “This or That.” Students were split into two teams and had to write down on a sheet of paper the healthier choice between two comparable food items. For example, one of the comparisons was McDonald’s Angus Bacon & Cheese versus McDonald’s Big Mac. I showed pictures of the items, and each team had to guess the right option for points. I stopped after each choice to discuss the reasoning behind the healthier option. In the McDonald’s example, the students talked about the number of patties in each burger and how that contributes to one’s caloric and nutritional intake. I intentionally chose restaurants that the students go to often to make it relevant to their lives. The second activity was a nutritional content competition. After I named a specific restaurant food, students had to guess the amount of calories, sodium, total fat, and carbohydrates were in each item.  I explained the definitions of calorie, sodium, total fat, and carbohydrates as well as reasons for why too much or too little of each one can be unhealthy.

The students applied what they learned to their own lives by expressing curiosity of the food that they consume. Their enthusiasm on the topic was revealed by their many questions and comments. It was a rewarding experience to watch the students increase their nutrition knowledge and awareness while having a good time. They surprised me with how much they already know about nutrition as well as how curious they still are about nutrition. I am looking forward to the next two workshops centered around the 2008 NNM theme, Nutrition: It’s a Matter of Fact and the 2011 NNM theme: Eat Right With Color. Through these workshops, I hope that the students will increase their health related choices and decisions in order to be productive and involved in their communities!

By Sharon Choi, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of Sharon Choi & Raj Chinta, AALEAD Staff

On Thursday, April 4, Asian American LEAD (AALEAD) hosted nine youth from our DC Secondary School Program for a Girls’ Program Day at our DC Community Center. To continue providing an outlet similar to AALEAD’s Girls’ Leadership Program from a few years ago, we decided to engage our girls in a program day just for them!

The Girls’ Program Day took place during spring break. Several of our youth came out after a participating in a  community service event  (which you can read about here). Even after a full morning of activities, AALEAders were ready to participate. A few weeks before the event, our girls expressed interest in making food and participating in beauty/spa activities (e.g. nails, make up). Our youth spoke up and we, of course, listened!

We kicked off the afternoon by working together to prepare a menu of mini chocolate chip cookies, assorted fruits, crackers, cheese and tea. Before getting into the beauty/spa activities, we had the opportunity for a great conversation and discussion on “beauty” and how we as females and Asian American females are affected by standards of beauty. Our youth gave thoughtful answers and asked great questions. AALEADers described the discussion in one word. Responses included: intriguing, psychological, reflective, insightful, thoughtful, encouraging, important and perspective.

Thank you to our staff and youth for making our Girls’ Program Day such a success.  We will continue to have open communication with our AALEAD girls and definitely hope to have more Girls’ Program Days in the months to come!

By Mohammed H., MD Youth Council Historian
Photos Courtesy of Francine Gorres, AALEAD Staff

During our week of the so-called “Spring” Break, Asian American LEAD’s (AALEAD) MD High School Program provided opportunities to visit different universities. On March 26 and 27, AALEAD high school students took time to take a trip to the University of Baltimore County (UMBC) and Georgetown University for a tour in and around the campus.

It was a time for us to explore what these college contenders had to offer. With the help of amazing tour guides that attended or have attended the universities, our students got maximum exposure to each school. It was a great experience for AALEADers to see how different college life is from their high school life.

Some students liked walking around the campus and seeing all the different buildings just for certain academic interests such as film, theater, science and technology, and more. This gave students a better perspective of how their future will be like with many different types of career choices and so many different resources available to them. AALEADers found out many new things about these schools and colleges in general that they didn’t know prior to the tour. So let’s call this College Tour Day a success!

By Tina Ngo, AALEAD Staff
Photos Courtesy of Sophie Zhao, DC Elementary School Program Teacher

This past weekend, AALEADers, mentors, staff members, and our friends over at CAPAL (Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership) participated in the 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Though it was a bit chilly in the morning, the clouds looming overhead eventually drifted away, and all that could be seen for the rest of the day were bright blue skies. As our students made their way over to Rock Creek Park, their energy and enthusiasm could be heard in their cheers and laughter.

The day started off with a brief orientation by our site coordinator, and off they were! AALEADers were handed gloves and trash bags, and then they were assigned to an area of the park to clean up. As they trudged their way through the mud, across the river, and over the grassy patches, AALEADers found many interesting things. From shoes to fossils, a CD, and even a car door, they discovered a myriad of items that were simply thrown away or forgotten in the park. In doing so, AALEADers became quite the explorers as they climbed over rocks and marched through the grass in order to do their part in keeping our Earth clean.

After two hours of picking up trash and recyclables throughout the Park, AALEADers were ready for lunch. They gathered with our mentors, staff members, and CAPAL volunteers at the nearby picnic tables to munch on delicious granola bars, fruit snacks, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Once everyone was re-energized, AALEADers began to mingle with the new friendly faces that they did not have the opportunity to meet and get to know earlier that morning.

By helping to make the park a more beautiful and vibrant place, AALEADers learned about the importance of civic engagement, and how one’s actions can both positively and negatively impact our community and the world around us. As the event came to an end, AALEADers reflected on their surprise at the great amount of trash strewn across the area and discussed what they could do to help make their neighborhoods a cleaner place to live. Their motivated and lively conversations about what they could do to make the world a better place highlight the significance of community service and the positive impact that these opportunities have on our youth.

Special shout out to all of the elementary school students, mentors, mentees, staff, and CAPAL members who were able to join us! Also, our deepest thanks to CAPAL for providing the snacks for our students and Doug Barker from the Rock Creek Conservancy for helping us coordinate this event. We are so happy that we were able to share this wonderful experience together, and we hope to see you all again soon!