Our Healthy Choices program consists of lessons every Monday and Tuesday from 2:30 to 6:00pm. By teaching our students how to grow fresh produce, exercise regularly and prepare healthy foods, we hope to instill lifelong habits which enable our students to live confidently and contribute more to the communities they are a part of.
Chef Mara Norris leads our Tuesday cooking sessions, teaching the students the basic skills required to begin food preparation, including kitchen safety and hygienic practices. Chef Norris also selects healthy ingredients for our weekly sessions in order to create delicious and easy-to-make foods that our students can re-create at home. Showing our students how every step involved in the production of good-tasting food that is beneficial for their well-being is important to helping students break bad habits of always eating the easy, unhealthy options available to them.
Chef Jamie Suddoth runs our Sweet Monday sessions, offering education to students on ways to eat healthy, tasty foods. The pastries and baked goods produced from our Monday sessions are enjoyed by friends and family, and make for great prizes throughout the year and refreshments at the end of year production. Each class is finished with a Zumba session led by instructor Jessica Weill.
Our gardening lessons are taught by experienced gardener Robin Gill, who manages a certified wildlife habitat in her own backyard. Students receive hands-on guidance in the construction and maintenance of the SKILLS Garden, located in front of Hope Community Church and visible from Rea Road. Mrs Gill teaches the students how to grow vegetables organically while also providing knowledge of beneficial insects and the flowers needed to attract them. Students are given a reason to understand the weather and how it affects their surroundings. Sessions are 30-90 minutes long, and take place at any time throughout Healthy Choices, depending on the weather.
We also emphasize the importance of physical education. Our classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays each include physical fitness activities typically lasting 30-60 minutes. Al Bigley, a WITS certified personal trainer of Fitness on Call directs the segment each Tuesday, leading our students through simple weight-lifting routines using dumbbells and resistance bands. Our Wednesday P.E. segments, directed by BJJ practicer and part-time wrestling coach Long Nguyen, focus on finding fun activities which require us to move. Our Fine Arts Fridays classes include modern dance lessons taught by Danielle Gumb, a Board Certified Music Therapist.