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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Guatemala: Learn, Grow, Eat, & Go!

Our “Learn, Grow, Eat & Go!” (LGEG) program in Guatemala was aimed at promoting food security and combining socioemotional learning with gardening activities to reduce violent behaviors. Partnering with AgriLife Extension’s Junior Master Gardener program and the A&M Garden Club, the Conflict and Development Foundation (CDF) encouraged teamwork and inclusion through gardening and physical activities.

Guatemala: Learn, Grow, Eat, & Go!

The objective of this program was to work with kids to promote gender inclusion and discuss how to identify and cope with violent behaviors such as bullying by discussing such issues with teachers and parents. The program combined academic achievement, gardening, nutrient-dense food experiences, physical activity, and school & family engagement. During our initial workshops in Guatemala, kids learned through fun and interactive games and activities about parts of the plant, floral design, recycling, how to prepare healthy recipes using fruits and vegetables, how to establish a school garden, and the importance of being active and using exercise to relieve stress that might otherwise lead to violent behavior.

Over 350 kids and 25 adult volunteers participated in our 2017 Pilot Program in Guatemala. “Learn, Grow, Eat & Go!” activities included:

  1. An LGEG gardening and nutrition workshop for 275 elementary school kids and their teachers, focusing on establishing a vegetable garden; exercises and garden yoga to relieve stress; parts of the plant; fresh food tastings/demonstrations.
  2. An LGEG session with 19 Junior High students focusing on parts of the plant, recycling, and English names of fruits and vegetables and visits to home gardens tended by youth;
  3. A Go! practice session for 20 kids at El Durazno school in a Mayan village, focusing on stretching exercises to release stress.
  4. Two gardening, nutrition, and exercise fairs for 24 kids who formed a gardening club, focusing on fresh recipes from the garden; nutrition concepts; exercising to relieve stress and promote inclusion of girls in sports; discussions on teamwork, plus book reading on inclusion.
  5. Three train-the-trainer sessions with adult volunteers that helped implement the children’s’ workshops.

Program Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • The LGEG curriculum provides guidance for various activities that can be held in developing nations; however, some lessons need to be modified according to the resources available. Particularly with regard to the Train the Trainer sessions in Guatemala, kids, teachers, and parents need more education regarding how to identify and cope with bullying and other forms of school violence. Enlisting the help of gardeners and physical education teachers from partner organizations has been a successful strategy.
  • Children who participated in the “Go!” activities related to this program found that exercising and being active were an effective way to release stress.

As program leaders continue to refine the curriculum and program content, we hope this program will continue to improve food security and reduce bullying in the rural schools of Guatemala. For more information, please contact our Regional Lead for Latin America, Johanna Roman.

Read about our follow-up program for 2018 here: Play for Peace

Other Programs in Latin America and Caribbean

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