This summer, six teens from the Saint Louis Science Center’s YES (Youth Exploring Science) Program are teaching classes at the South City Family YMCA. Alana, Adrionna, Dayshia, Ayianna, AJ, and Quadlyn (that's me!) lead groups of kids at the summer camp in gardening, exercise, and healthy eating activities on weekdays. Each day, the teens teach a group of up to 35 kids for three hours.
The teens have helped to improve the garden at the YMCA and teach the kids how to take care of it. The kids weed, water, transplant, and harvest the plants. They have learned so much about bees, tomatoes, and mint. One of the best things has been letting the kids try the mint for themselves, right out in the garden. Many kids are surprised that people eat leaves!
Once the kids come back in from the garden, the teens do exercise games with them in the gym and teach them lessons about plants. But the highlight is always the healthy snack. One of the most popular is rice cake pizzas. Want the recipe?
1. Step one is to take the kids out to the garden. After they water their garden, have each child pick one basil leaf on the way back inside.
2. Once inside, wash the basil leaves and have the kids tear them into little pieces on a plate.
3. Next give each kid an unflavored rice cake. Teens go around and put pizza sauce on each rice cake for the kids.
4. The kids sprinkle their basil bits onto the pizza sauce.
5. Next, other ingredients can be added: mozzarella cheese, broccoli, pepperoni.
6. Voila! A rice cake pizza. If you make it at home, you can also microwave it for 20 seconds to melt the cheese.
Not only are the kids making a fun, healthy snack, but they are also learning about herbs and using spices to flavor food instead of fat or sugar. You can extend this recipe into so many lessons about herbs.
The teens have been doing a great job teaching the kids. They are great mentors and have been encouraging the kids to try new foods. Every day, they feel like they have accomplished something by teaching the kids to enjoy being outdoors and eat healthy. We can't wait to see what the rest of the summer holds!