Building Strong Character is Important for our Children’s Future! When I started HealthBarn USA almost 10 years ago I was determined to teach kids about nutrition by growing and cooking with their own fresh food and the healthy lifestyle that goes with it! We do that everyday at the Barn through our unique hands-on experience, but I have felt that kids needed more from our curriculum to live up to the promise of “strong bodies, healthy minds.” That’s why this summer, we introduced values into their camp experience. Values are learned by children most effectively through experiences and then, reinforced through positive and negative events in their lives whether they are at school, home, after-school activities and camp.
While I appreciate technology, I’ve watched kids and adults plug in and tune out for hours disconnecting themselves from what truly nourishes their souls — loving relationships and healthy communication with others. Instead of assuming kids understand basic values such as respect, kindness, teamwork, generosity, etc., we decided to teach them values through experience. Each day is dedicated to a value which we discuss, play with and practice with others to master it! Our day begins with a value story (older kids like to read it to the younger kids) and mid-day we engage in an activity to practice it, and then, we conclude the day with a reflection about they feel about its practice. Kids of all ages are surprisingly receptive and have exceeded our expectations. I’d like to share with you how we teach respect so you share it with your family at home!
Respect: The Story of Charlie the Chicken (this is their favorite story!)
One day a man was driving his fast car down a country road and noticed that there was a chicken running alongside the car. No matter how fast he drove his car, Charlie the Chicken was able to run faster than the car! The man was shocked because he never saw a chicken run so fast. So, he decided to follow Charlie the Chicken home to his farm to ask how this could be possible. He finally found the farmer and said, “your chicken is super fast, so much so, that he out ran my car, how is this possible?” The farmer laughed and said, “didn’t you notice that the chicken has three legs?” What?! declared the man, how is that possible? The farmer said that the family loves to eat chicken legs and they would much rather have more legs on the chicken than the breast meat, so his son the scientist decided to create a chicken with three legs instead of two! The man couldn’t believe what he was hearing! He asked, “does the three legged chicken taste better than the two-legged chicken?” The farmer replied that he doesn’t know because they haven’t been able to catch the chicken to eat it yet!
What’s the lesson of the story? We must respect all people, animals and creatures for who they are and not try to change them for our own benefit.
Value Game: Respect Others Feelings
Brief Description: People’s feelings can be fragile, like an egg; treat others kindly and considerately, showing respect for their feelings.
1) Begin by passing a raw egg back and forth around a circle.
2) Keep backing up and increasing the distance of the toss to make it more difficult.
3) The egg may or may not break as the distance increases.
Use this game as an opportunity to talk about how we should treat others with respect. Explain that people are fragile like the egg. Humans don’t have shells, but people can have very sensitive feelings. Treating others with consideration demonstrates respect for their feelings.
Questions for discussion:
- How do you feel when someone speaks harshly to you?
- What do people say to hurt the feelings of other people?
- Why do we wash our hands after we are finished eating a messy meal?
- Why do we put our things away instead of leaving them lay around the house or the Barn?
- Why do we knock before entering a closed door?
- Why do we ask before we take food from someone else’s plate?
What values and activities do you practice at home?
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, director, HealthBarn Foundation, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.