Nutrition Intuition is a non-profit health awareness program that aims to educate the community about the beneficial effects of drinking more water and living a healthy, active lifestyle. I conceived the idea for Nutrition Intuition in July 2006 at the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine (NYLF), where it won first place in the Public Health Symposium contest.
My affiliation with Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) enabled me to gather a team of four students from my high school who offered to help. I began by assessing local elementary schools and their need for health awareness. We concluded that Webb Elementary would be the perfect candidate to launch our program, not only because of its convenient location, but because of its desperate need for health education. Webb Elementary is a Title I school with a diverse population of 820 students. The student body is 71% Hispanic, 13% African American, 13% Anglican, and 3% Asian or Pacific Islander. Of these students, 42% are educated in the bilingual program, 55% are Limited-English proficient, 75% meet at-risk criteria, and 90% are economically disadvantaged. After meeting with the school's administration, they eagerly agreed to support the project and concluded that our program would benefit their school.
On October 31, 2006 the Nutrition Intuition team presented the program to each classroom, discussed the importance of drinking water, and passed out flyers to students, teachers, and parents. In order to monitor the success of our program and reinforce our motive, we held an incentives-based competition where families were encouraged to collect and deposit their empty water bottles into each classroom. At the end of the two-week competition, the classes with the most water bottles would win a catered party with food, prizes, and free give-aways!
The contest lasted from November 6-November 17, 2006. Orca Imaging Systems sponsored $0.05 for every bottle collected. After two weeks, Webb Elementary collected 4,675 water bottles, which generated a gross income of $233.75. Several Arlington businesses endorsed our program: Wal-Mart Supercenter donated cardboard boxes; two Jason's Deli stores provided $150 of free catering and 500 free meal vouchers; Barnes & Noble contributed two $15 gift cards; NRH20 Water Park gave two free admission tickets; and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor donated two free admission tickets. Furthermore, all 4,675 water bottles were recycled at the end of the contest. Not only did the students gain invaluable education about healthy eating, they witnessed the importance of recycling.
We held the concluding party on November 21 to celebrate the school’s tremendous achievement and to honor the winning classrooms. Over 300 students attended the party where they played with beach balls, chatted with their friends, and listened to music. The prize drawing was a huge success! Several students won free gifts and prizes donated by sponsoring businesses. In addition, Jason’s Deli was the perfect catering service, for the company is the first restaurant chain to make their sandwiches free of trans fat. Students filled their plates with nutritious turkey and ham sandwiches, pickles, fruits, and vegetables. Every student walked away from the party with free meal vouchers, free water bottles, new prizes, and a greater understanding of healthy eating habits.