Breaking Away from the Familiar

Guest Post by Youth Volunteer Shanna Rucker

We’ve all experienced those times when we have been reluctant to try something new, for fear of straying from the comforts of familiarity.  Once getting past the initial shock of it all, we often find that it was completely painless and maybe even enjoyable.  In my last lesson at Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, the middle school students I work with had quite a similar experience, but with hummus and ultimate Frisbee.  These may seem like two unrelated topics, but they went along with the fitness and nutrition activity I conducted this month.

An early goal of mine was to encourage these students to make healthier choices and emphasize that it doesn’t have to be about making drastic lifestyle changes.  There are many simple measures we can take to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  To learn some key nutrition facts we made models of the Food Plate diagram and solved Nutrition Label puzzles.  Now my hope is to expose the students to fitness games and healthy food options that they are not normally accustomed to in their daily lives.

Ultimate Frisbee was familiar to some, but for others it was completely foreign.  After practicing our throws and doing a couple of warm-up activities, we got to the best part.  These students thrive in active competition.

Students playing ultimate Frisbee at the Bethlehem Center.

At first, while still getting the hang of it, they were a little apprehensive.  They saw the similarities to football and wanted to resort back to their comfort zone.  We kept playing anyways and soon they didn’t want to stop.  However, eventually we had to move on to our snack.  I brought them carrots and reduced fat crackers to dip in some tasty hummus. They were very resistant to hummus because it seemed so strange.  I explained the ingredients and where it comes from, but still no one wanted to be the first to try it.  In the end, everyone worked up the courage to have a taste, and the general consensus was that it was not as bad as they were expecting.  Few admitted to really liking it, but the important thing is that they all tried it.  This has been a truly rewarding experience, and I’ve greatly enjoyed working with these students and the people at Bethlehem Centers.

Shanna Rucker is a senior at Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High School. Her YVC Internship focus is on Fitness & Nutrition at Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, a family resource center serving infants, children, teens, adults, and seniors primarily in the North Nashville community. 

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