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SOUCHERAY: Kids club is making a difference

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Woodbury has been blessed to have a wonderful, productive and inspiring project underway the past two summers. It is called "KIWI kids", which stands for Kids International Wellness Initiative. The motivation for the project came about when a group of District 833 Community Education leaders wanted to help our children have an experience that would change their lives and the lives of other children, half way around the world.

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This all began two summers ago when one of the leaders, Gretchen Carlson, met another woman who had a connection to the New Hope for Africa Orphanage in Uganda. The children in the orphanage were dying of starvation, while paradoxically, our children were seeing a dramatic increase in childhood obesity.

Thus began the Wellness Initiative. The primary intent is that our children will make better decisions regarding self-care and good health, as well as contribute much needed funds to the children of Uganda, in order to prevent their death by starvation.

KIWI also stands for, "Kick it up," "Include more fruits and veggies," "Watch less/Do more," and "I can make a difference." As the young people in the South Washington County Schools were engaged in working to attain a better balance in their lives, they were also earning points for each achievement toward better health. From there, the points were redeemed for money, which was donated to Uganda.

Sue McKeown, another leader in the program explained, "We want our kids to know they can be change-makers, that what they do does make a difference." She continued by saying that our kids will feel better about themselves by helping other people, even people they do not know.

Those who participated in the summer KIWI program were also involved in field trips to programs that demonstrated the need to satisfy hunger. The students visited the community garden at Guardian Angels Catholic Church, which provides fresh produce to local Food Shelves. They also took a trip to Feed My Starving Children and made meals for hungry people around the world. Some of the meals the students made were sent to Uganda. In addition, they visited the Christian Cupboard, which offers food to families in our area.

There were two schools involved in this project over the past two years. Middleton Elementary School worked on the project the first year and earned seven hundred and fifty dollars. Red Rock Elementary School worked on the project last summer and they earned nineteen hundred dollars. This summer, the goal is to have two schools involved, one in the southern part of the district and one in the north, and to earn five thousand dollars to send to the orphanage.

The students will do this through their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. In return, they will receive points, which will be traded for money and sent to Uganda. Additionally, there is a plan to use Skype so the young people on two separate continents, half a world apart, can see and talk with each other.

What is needed this summer is for several groups to donate money to help defray the cost of exchanging the points for dollars. If you are in a group who can host a garage sale, please consider donating a portion of your earnings to the KIWI cause. Or children may want to have a lemonade stand, and again, a portion of their earnings could be given to KIWI. In both situations, you could also make a poster and explain your desire to help Uganda and provide an additional means for shoppers to donate money directly to the cause.

You will find more information when you check out their website at www.kiwikids.org. There will be an opportunity to watch an informative video, which will explain more about the initiative and give you ideas of ways you can become a part of this global effort

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