'Health Heroes' dish up nutritious food at Clinton high school

A "Health Heroes" program at Surrattsville High in Clinton, Md., teaches students how to build a healthy lifestyle.
By Charity Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

As a substitute teacher in Prince George's County, Kim Carrington, 44, has stepped up to the head of a lot of different classes, from kindergarten to high school French. But it was the food and nutrition class she taught at Surrattsville High in Clinton that came to mind when she got an e-mail one day about grants available from a nonprofit organization called Youth Service America.

This is a subject dear to Carrington's heart. "I taught my kids to cook, and most of them love cooking," she said. "I've always wanted to show other kids and families how to cook their own foods and eat good, healthy foods." And YSA was offering 300 grants nationwide for youth-oriented projects including ones aimed at combating childhood obesity.

Carrington applied and won $1,000 for a "Health Heroes" program at Surrattsville. "This is the first time I've applied for a grant to 'make it happen' and we got it!" she said.

Health Heroes kicked off last Tuesday morning with a cooking class. The students learned alternative recipes for two familiar foods: sweet potatoes and collard greens. Instead of cooking the collards with pork, the students used chicken bouillon, olive oil, onions and garlic. Instead of candying the sweet potatoes, the students julienned them, then baked them with a little olive oil and cinnamon.

Student Jakija Hargrove loved the greens -- "I can't even tell the difference between those cooked with pork and these" -- but she wasn't a fan of the baked sweet potatoes.

That evening, the cooks served their creations at a service program connected to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Then came part two of a healthy lifestyle: exercise. But instead of a gym-class workout, they got gospel line dancing.

Gospel singer Christopher Page taught them the "Sanctified Slide": First you "walk in the spirit," then "shake the devil off," "stomp Satan lower" and "dance like David."

The whole group worked off what little food they had eaten.

Carrington said the program will continue once a month until April.

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