A soccer player at Channel View School for Research in Queens, 17-year-old Matthew Roginski confidently stepped to the podium, stood in front of more than 100 school nurses and nutritionists and proudly spoke about the positive effects and changes the Fuel Up to Play 60 program has had on his life.
“Through Fuel Up to Play 60 and its hands-on Teen Battle Chef culinary program with healthy new recipes and nutritious eating, I can now help my mom more in the kitchen and I can bring more knowledge of dairy and healthy foods to the table.”
After Matthew, 16-year-old Darlens Etienne and 15-year-old Dilnoza Khafizova from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and 17-year-old Destiny Christopher from Channel View all similarly walked up to the same podium and echoed similar sentiments.
All four were on hand to represent Fuel Up to Play 60 at the Healthy Choices for Children conference in Manhattan. The annual conference is attended by nurses and nutritionists from schools throughout New York City, and the students were there not only to promote the Fuel Up Program to the nurses, but also to tell them their own personal stories of achievement in conjunction with the program.
They also spoke about the Team Battle Chef program, which encourages students to cook new, healthy recipes filled with dairy.
“With Fuel Up to Play 60 and Teen Battle Chef, it was all a very positive experience, teaching me new skills and how to eat healthier and try new foods,” Darlens said to the nurses and nutritionists who were eager to hear her and her peers.
“It all has brought a sense of student awareness. There’s more student awareness now, especially about the importance of breakfast and dairy. We can eat our breakfast in the cafeteria before class. We can get fresh fruit and dairy every day that is delicious and helps us throughout the day.”
While Darlens shared a message of student awareness, Dilnosa shared one of collaboration.
“Eating healthy to me means eating lots of fruits and vegetables and dairy every day because I know they are good for my body’s energy level,” said Dilnoza, who plans of joining her schools swimming team in the spring. “I have so many tasks to accomplish each day, so I need high energy levels each day. I’d like for there to be collaboration with school nurses so we can come together and discuss how all these healthy foods can positively affect our bodies and how we can tell other students how healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and dairy can actually be delicious.”
To round things out, Destiny spoke of a deep personal connection.
“I’m from Far Rockway and it’s known as a food desert, which often makes it hard to practice healthy eating habits,” she explained. “On almost every corner, there are chicken spots or pizza places or other fast food establishments; you won’t find a salad bar or healthy restaurant. Many times, the only option for kids in the area is fast food, which obviously is not healthy.
“I’m a dancer and perform in the choir. I have a very active lifestyle. If I don’t eat healthy, I can’t focus, and I become tired. I’m not energetic. Fuel Up to Play 60 and Team Battle Chef help me incorporate dairy and other healthy foods into my diet and inspired me to start cooking at home more. I’m grateful for the program and what it has brought me. I have the energy I need. And I want to share it with everyone here and everyone back at school!”
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.