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Kids help others while helping themselves

With summer already on the horizon and students anticipating a summer without classes and full of video games, television and summer treats, District 833 Community Education offers a healthy alternative.

For the second year running, Community Education will be offering the Kids International Wellness Initiative (KIWI) with Red Rock Kid's Club for six weeks this summer, starting on July 6.

"It's just a whole person wellness initiative," Sue McKeown, from Community Education, said.

KIWI was offered through Middleton Elementary Kid's Club last year as a way to help combat childhood obesity and help children to become healthier.

The six-week long program is divided into four areas of concern, fitness, nutrition, media awareness and service learning.

Last year's program at Middleton proved a great success in showing a majority of students making changes to their lifestyle in various areas and more importantly, enjoying the program.

As the program progresses, students rack up points when they accomplish one of the wellness initiatives, and then those points are transformed into money that is sent to New Hope of Africa Orphanage in Uganda to buy food for starving children.

"By making positive changes in your own life, you can make positive changes in other's lives," McKeown said. "We want them to think of other people in the world, other people in their environment."

Last year, KIWI donated $750 to the orphanage.

Lydia Kayongo from New Hope of Africa Orphanage said she is very appreciative of the KIWI program, because it not only helps the children in the orphanage, but it teaches these students, and their parents for that matter, to first think about themselves and then think on a larger scale.

"It is encouraging to see that there are programs like this that create that kind of awareness without that fear of childhood obesity -- it's in a way that is empowering you to make a change," Kayongo said. "It teaches our kids to not only be mindful of themselves, but mindful of other people, it's shooting to think bigger and think broader, It's just being aware of what is out there, not in a scary way, but in an informative way."

Gretchen Carlson, from Community Education, said she is optimistic in the KIWI program being a success at Red Rock Elementary this year because it not only teaches, it is also fun.

"The goal is to help the children here, what can we do to address childhood obesity, and then empower them to become change makers to help with childhood starvation," she said. "This is as much empowering them to feel like even as a kid you can impact kids across the globe in an orphanage."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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