SNAP-Ed curriculum enhanced with activities and gifts to reinforce healthy living lessons

Julie Dantone demonstrates how to brush teeth

Healthy living is more than just what we eat and drink. Thanks to partnerships, University of Illinois Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—Education staff in Tazewell County enhanced their standard curriculum with additional hands-on activities and gifts for the youth and adult participants.

Container Gardening

Fruits and vegetables are a consistent topic within SNAP-Ed programs. A lesson within the Healthy Cents curriculum teaches the basics of container gardening and how it makes fresh produce more affordable. Through a partnership with Tazewell County Health Department and utilizing funds from Illinois Central College’s Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, staff were able to hold a 90-minute program about nutrition, starting a container garden, and using healthy recipes with your home-grown produce. Instructors included Tazewell County Health Department Nutritionist Madison McClurg and U of I Extension SNAP-Education Instructors Kaytlin Beekman and Julie Dantone.

“Participants received everything they needed to start their own container garden: seeds, pots, soil, and seed starter. They put them together during our live demonstration,” said Kaytlin.

Strong Bones and Teeth

OrganWise Guys is a curriculum that teaches kindergarten through second grade students the importance of a healthy diet and how it helps our organs. An important lesson explains the importance of calcium in growing strong bones and teeth. Delta Dental, Peoria Dental, and Tazewell County Health Department donated enough new toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss for our SNAP-Education instructor to hand out to every student participating in the program.

“After I read a story about the importance of taking good care of our teeth, I demonstrated how to properly brush your teeth, and we conducted a Wisercise exercise session together,” explained Julie Dantone, SNAP-Education instructor.

“We are grateful to our partners for allowing us the means to get the information out in new, creative ways,” mentioned Kaytlin. “Seeing success in our programs and spreading nutrition education through our community is important to us. We have already started planning and talking with our partners to produce these programs and other big ideas in the future.”

 MEET THE AUTHORS

Prior to her work with Extension, Julie Dantone was self-employed most of her life, owning and operating an old glass greenhouse over ten thousand square feet.  Julie became a University of Illinois Master Gardener in 2012. Julie started working at University of Illinois Extension in May 2019 as a Snap-Ed Community Worker. She enjoys the work and finds it very fulfilling.

Kaytlin Beekman joined Extension in August 2021 working as a SNAP-Ed Community Worker for Tazewell County. She graduated from Lewistown High School in 2009 and now resides in Germantown Hills, IL. She is passionate about her current studies in leadership and organization at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Kaytlin was formerly employed as a licensed massage therapist.

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