*New* Member Spotlight Series: Meet Whitley Wynns

We’re excited to kick off our new Member Spotlight series with the help of AIHTI member Whitley Wynns! (Thank you, Whitley!)

The goal of the series is to provide firsthand accounts of our members’ AmeriCorps service experiences and to shed light on the organizations and populations they serve.

Whitley, our first contributor, serves at the Lincoln Street Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington as their Health and Wellness Coordinator. Read her reflection below:

My name is Whitley Wynns, and I serve at the Lincoln Street Boys and Girls Club in Bloomingtin, Indiana. The mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential. The Boys and Girls Club provides a safe place for young people to learn and grow, where ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals can be built. My host site also provides “life-enhancing,” character development programs that teach young people how to grow into productive, caring, responsible citizens. I serve as the Boys and Girls Club’s Health and Wellness Coordinator. This title allows me to perform many different tasks and wear many hats at “The Club.” My main responsibilities include assisting the athletic director in running gym programs, serving as homeroom leader for 8 and younger girls and as a Triple Play instructor.

Triple Play is a healthy lifestyle program offered to the children by the “The Club.” We cover nutrition, what we should be feeding our bodies, and how much. We also include a physical education component to the program, so children understand that nutrition and physical activity work together to keep us healthy. I do everything I can to make this program extremely successful and memberable because this is also my service project. Coming into the Boys and Girls Club, Triple Play was already set as a program but there was nothing that really made it special. My job was to really put this program on the map and get people and the community talking more about healthy living for ourselves and for our youth. Throughout the program I have had IU health students, a police officer, and a Zumba instructor come in and do activities with the kids or talk to them about different health risks and safety issues that they should be aware of and how to avoid these various issues. Through this program we hope to equip children with the proper knowledge to keep their bodies healthy and to teach them to stay away from things that can be harmful to their health.

I have had an overall very positive experience as an AmeriCorps/AIHTI member. I have come across great career building opportunities as well as networking onesAmeriCorps has also made me more aware of the issues we are fighting against as a society. Obesity is a core issue that we need to fix as a society, but when you are working in one area and trying to fight against one societal ailment, you become exposed to many more problems and issues that need to be adressed and somehow fixed or managed. Simply put, I now want to try to save the world and have a hand in trying to find a solution to many of our problems. I have always wanted to be a lawyer, and that is still a deep passion of mine, but working as an AmeriCorps member has helped me to pick up different skills and learn various professional lessons that I will be able to take with me forever.

Stay tuned over the next few months for more spotlights on AIHTI members. It is sure to be an interesting read if you have any interest in working with underserved populations or are considering serving with AIHTI/AmeriCorps in the future.

Member in the News

We love seeing our members and their service projects in the news!  Great work, Keia!

Students practice reading food labels, try new foods during grocery store field trip

By April Toler 331-4353 | atoler@heraldt.com
April 24, 2012


Nancy Wroblewski, left, asks Arlington Elementary School student Keisha Herron to read the ingredients in a box of cereal last week during a healthful food field trip to the Marsh Supermarket on Kinser Pike. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times


Wesley Perry, left, and Arrick Gingles try mango during a field trip last week to the Marsh Supermarket on Kinser Pike, where Nancy Wroblewski was teaching them about healthful food choices. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Ask fourth-grader Griffin Powers what healthful snack he likes best, and he’s quick to answer with an enthusiastic “bananas!”
But after participating in a little shopping and food tasting at Marsh Supermarket last week, bananas may have been knocked down a place on Powers’ list.
“I loved the mango,” said Griffin, an Arlington Elementary School student. “It was my first time trying it, and I’m going to ask my dad every time (we go shopping) to get me one.”
Griffin’s mango experience was part of the YMCA’s Energize program, which teaches area students about health and physical fitness.
This year the program, which meets for an hour each week, is taking place at Highland, Arlington and Templeton elementary schools.
Last week’s trip was the first time the program has left the classroom and headed into the grocery store.
The idea came about after Nancy Wroblewski, community outreach coordinator with the YMCA, and Americorps service member Keia Cole noticed their students were not eating a lot of fruits and vegetables.
The reason, according to the students, was that their parents couldn’t afford them.
“I thought it would be an awesome idea to try to teach them how to grocery shop on a budget, versus not being able to eat healthy because they can’t afford it,” Cole said.
So last Tuesday, and again today, Cole and Wroblewski led their students throughout Marsh Supermarket, pointing out fruits and vegetables and healthful grains and how to compare prices.
Armed with that week’s sales ad, the students also learned how to weigh and calculate the cost of produce and to look for items on sale.
The students also practiced reading food labels, a lesson they had been learning in class.
Wroblewski has been working with Monroe County Community School Corp. students for years, and said most of them are receptive to learning more about living a healthful lifestyle.
“When I come in at the beginning of the class, they are really proud to tell me, ‘Oh, I had an apple for lunch,’ or . I’ll see these kids in the summertime, and they’ll come running up to me and say ‘Nancy, I’ve been eating healthy all summer,’” Wroblewski said. “They really seem to get into it and they are really proud of themselves.”
In fact, during the lesson all of the children, including Hannah Ringquist, were quick to give their opinions on the foods they tried.
“I liked the mango and the peppers, but not the avocado,” a serious Hannah said.
Although not all of the fruits and vegetables they tried were hits, their enthusiasm for trying them was high. In fact, most of the children were eager to both learn and share their knowledge about eating healthfully.
“Healthy stuff is all around you,” Griffin said. “You can even make your own healthy stuff.”

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2012

In Honor of National Nutrition Month, Some Nutritional Wisdom

Did you know? AmeriCorps Improving Health Throughout Indiana is the only AmeriCorps program in the state solely concerned with improving the physical and nutritional health of Indiana residents.

(Okay, the name may have tipped you off.)

It should come as no surprise then that we at AIHTI were particularly gung-ho about celebrating National Nutrition Month this past month and did so the best way we know how—by actively promoting nutrition within the communities we serve. 

Gardening projects, nutrition classes, kids camps, and more kept us busy all month long and will continue to do so until our term of service ends August 2012. 

But we don’t want to the about that yet.

Instead, in the afterglow of National Nutrition Month, two AIHTI members would like to offer you their own tips for maintaining a healthy plate in their everyday lives.

The first blurb comes from Ellen Spitz, Nutrition and Physical Fitness Coordinator at New Hope Family Shelter. Ellen also studies dietetics at Indiana University—Bloomington.

         Ellen: “As a dietetics student, I take healthy eating very seriously. What you put into your body is important! When choosing healthy food, I focus on eating whole foods – meaning they are as close to their natural form as possible – like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) and lean protein. I choose to eat organic when I can because I believe it is better for my body and the environment. I do not eat meat often, because it can be expensive and also taxing to the environment.

         Myplate.gov (aka the “new food pyramid”) can be a great resource for someone wanting to start eating a healthier diet. Another great resource is your local farmer’s market! The farmer’s market is full of interesting fruits and vegetables, many of which are native, and most of which are grown using minimal or no chemicals.”

And lastly, Jennifer Walters, School Gardening Coordinator at IU Health Community Health, weighs in on how to prepare and stick to well-balanced meals even on the go. 

         Jennifer: “I always include a fruit or vegetable at every meal. It’s easy to add fruit to oatmeal or yogurt. Vegetables can be added to sandwiches or included in a variety of main dishes. One of my favorites is homemade macaroni and cheese with broccoli mixed in. When I need a new recipe, I look at eatbetteramerica.com or cookinglight.com for healthy meal ideas. When I’m on the go, I take dried fruit, an apple, or banana along to prevent unplanned and unhealthy snacking.”

And there you have it—Simple, easy to follow nutrition tips from those who’ve made health and nutrition a priority in their lives, as well as the mission of their AmeriCorps service. Thank you, Ellen and Jennifer, for your nutritional wisdom and commitment!

AIHTI member spreads love of gardens, healthy eating to Monroe County schools

Last month you read a Great Story from AIHTI member Jennifer Walters about her experience as School Garden Coordinator at IU Health Community Health. At the time of that post, Walters’ main project – the Monroe County School Garden Collaborative, which aims to “increase youth gardening in schools as an approach to improving the health of children in Monroe County” – was in its infancy. Jennifer has since began delivering compost and nutrition education to students during their lunch periods at three Monroe County schools (Edgewood Intermediate School, Arlington Heights and Cedar Creek Elementary Schools) with great success. Students now regularly donate their lunch scraps to create compost, which will later be used in their school gardens to grow their own fruits and veggies.

Recently, The Herald Times took notice of this awesome project and visited Jennifer and co-organizer Hannah Laughlin at Edgewood Intermediate School to get a closer look. Read the article below for this wonderful story!

Monroe County students learning about compost, gardens, healthful eating

A Great Story

AIHTI members recently submitted their “Greatest Stories” from the 1st Quarter. Below, member Jennifer Walters tells her story, while also shedding light on her current project with IU Health Community Health:

I have had a great experience serving as the School Garden Coordinator at IU Health Community Health. During my service, with the help of numerous community partners, we will be creating school gardens at Arlington Heights Elementary, Clear Creek Elementary, and Edgewood Intermediate schools. The school gardens address behavioral and environmental factors related to childhood obesity by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, providing nutrition education, and providing an additional opportunity for students to be physically active during the school day through participation in hands-on gardening tasks. Upon starting my service at IU Health, my site supervisor and I have formed partnerships within the community to help make the school garden project a reality. As a result, we have created the “Monroe County School Garden Collaborative” which consists of thirteen community partners who have an interest in increasing youth gardening in schools as an approach to improving the health of children in Monroe County. In addition, we have written five grants, seeking funding to purchase garden supplies for the program. To date, we have been awarded three of these grants, and now have $1,700 per school to put towards the garden program. We purchased three large, two-compartment composters, spent several days assembling them,  and delivered them to each of the schools. In January, I will begin delivering composting/nutrition education to students during lunch, and kids will have the opportunity to compost their lunch scraps one day per week. After months of planning, I am excited to start implementing the program with kids!

Congratulations, Jennifer, and to all AIHTI members on your successes in your programs thus far. Let’s keep the momentum rolling all the way through 2012!

AmeriCorps Updates and Upcoming Events

I have spent the last couple of weeks planning an amazing summer retreat for all the members of AIHTI. This coming Saturday we will be going canoeing at Blue’s Canoe Livery in Edinburgh, IN. We will spend 3 or 4 hours on the Seven Mile trip down the beautiful Driftwood River. We will be stopping at one of the river’s sandbars to eat lunch and enjoy all the amazing views. After the canoe trip we will be heading to Brown County State Park to enjoy a half hour horseback ride on a beautiful scenic trail, we will hike through the remote ravines of the park, throw a frisbee around and do other fun physical activities. We will even be grilling out at one of the park’s picnic shelters or vistas. This retreat is geared more toward showing our appreciation to each and every member involved with AmeriCorps Improving Health Throughout Indiana. It has been a very successful year for AIHTI and it wouldn’t have been possible without the service and volunteering everyone demonstrated. Great job everyone!

Kelszie Phillips, a member serving with Bloomington Parks and Recreation is hosting the first annual G.O.A.L. Kickball Game. G.O.A.L. (Get Onboard Active Living) is a free family-focused, community approach to decreasing childhood obesity and encouraging healthy lifestyles for children and their families through education and activity. The event will be August 23, 2011 from 5:30PM to 7PM.
The G.O.A.L. program is a cooperation with the following community partners:

  • Indiana University Health Bloomington
  • Southern Indiana Pediatrics
  • Bloomington Parks and Recreation
  • Monroe County YMCA
  • Monroe County Community School Corporation
  • Richland Bean-Blossom Community School Corporation
  • The Office of Community Health Engagement
  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • Indiana University’s Department of Kinesiology
  • AmeriCorps Improving Health Throughout Indiana

Each community partner will be providing medical, behavioral, nutrition, and fitness education and support.
Kelszie put in a lot of hard work for this event and even designed t-shirts [which we are currently in the works of having made]. It’s going to be an awesome event so be sure to come out and support Kelszie, AIHTI and the G.O.A.L. kids and family!

Amy Phillips, a member serving at the Boys and Girls Club in Ellettsville is planning a family health fair that will be held at the Ellettsville  Club on August 28, 2011 from 2PM to 4PM. The event is titled Fit As A Fiddle Family Fair. All the sponsors of the event are going to be setting up booths with educational displays. Each display will be matched up with a fun physical activity for families to participate in together to win prizes and raffel tickets. AIHTI will also have a booth at the event with tons of display materials that will be great for kids and families!

The event flyer below displays all the sponsors.

That is all the updates and upcoming events at this time. As an AmeriCorps team we get things done. We are helping change the world.

Friday Night Facts!

Sorry for this late edition of Friday Night Facts but enjoy! 🙂

Friday Night Facts!

Though the 10-11 term will be over soon, AIHTI members and supervisors may be interested in the Healthy Women, Healthy Hoosiers Conference offered by the Indiana State Department of Health in this issue of Friday Night Facts.

Also, don’t forget to nominate a deserving volunteer for the Governor’s Awards. ONLY 2 DAYS LEFT!! Visit this website for more information: http://www.in.gov/ofbci/2390.htm.

Active Living Coalition (ALC) Walk and Health Fair

AmeriCorps Improving Health Throughout Indiana just wrapped up the ALC Walk and Health Fair that took place on June 25, 2011 in the Showers Plaza downtown Bloomington. It was a spectacular event and all the members involved were so thrilled to be a part of it. The event included roughly 19 booths that represented all ways to live an active and healthy life. Live ZUMBA and other work out routines were done during the whole event. Many little kids that were there joined in on the work out routines – it was awesome to see how this kind of outreach impacted the youngest youth within our community.

For our booth, we had over 30 individuals stop by our booth and ask questions about some of the table displays we had. The one table display that was a HUGE hit was our Health Edco portion size visual. It helped everyone visual what a normal portion size was for various foods ranging from a normal pancake portion (the size of a CD), a pasta portion (the size of a computer mouse), and even down to how much peanut butter is in a portion (the size of a golf ball). People were blown away by this. I’m pretty sure most of our members were, too.
Pictured below is myself (Brian Blevins) and another AmeriCorps member, Amy Phillips, standing at our booth during the event.

Amy Phillips and Brian Blevins, ALC Walk and Health Fair: June 25, 2011

Again, it was a fantastic event that we were so enthused to be a part of. Everyone at AIHTI would like to thank Samantha Schaefer and Cassie Barnhart for helping coordinate the whole event and for including us. We all look forward to working with you both in the near future.

Growing Together Community Garden Project

On May 21, 2011, AmeriCorps Improving Health Throughout Indiana hosted its second AmeriCorps Week Service Project at the Felege Hiywot Center in Indianapolis. Growing Together Community Garden was a one-day event community garden project that focused on serving an urban area and providing education on proper nutrition and the importance of community involvement. The members of the project built two raised accessible garden beds for individuals who are wheelchair bound. We hope this project will bring surrounding neighborhoods, communities and families together for a fun-filled day of learning how to manage healthy lifestyles through proper nutrition.

Pictures from the event can be seen below. The event was a complete success.

Congratulations to our AmeriCorps members Amy Phillips, Brian Blevins, Beth Underdahl-Peirce, Maggie Barrett, Kerry Anderson, Sarah Anderson, Terri Shephard, Emily Bretz, Jillian Schumacher, Rachel Boveja and Will McConnell for a job well done! We’d also like to thank Jerry from the Felege Hiywot Center and all the employees at the center for all their help! We couldn’t have done it without you!

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