Photo by Lauren Krizansky Del Norte High School students from left: freshman Kanessa Doulby, freshman Lacey Vanderpool, freshman Sadie Plane, sophomore Sheyanne Bell, freshman Alyssa Frank and Culinary Arts teacher Sandra Mueller.

A smooth breakfast was whipped up for Del Norte students on Monday morning when the Teen Choices class put a service-learning project in motion.

According to Del Norte High School freshman Lacey Vanderpool, students these days aren't eating enough healthy foods and there are no excuses. She and her fellow classmates decided to offer a solution and demonstrated how anyone can throw some fruit and yogurt in a blender and start the day off right.

Choosing Healthy Habits

"I noticed in my life that I am not as healthy as I should be," Vanderpool said about what she learned in the Teen Choices course that will no be offered next year because of budget cuts. "Students aren't as healthy as they should be. There is so much forcing people to do things that they shouldn't do."

Culinary Arts, Food Nutrition and Teen Choices teacher Sandra Mueller agreed while watching her students pour strawberry shots into Dixie cups, "Our students do not always make healthy choices. They eat what is fast and easy for them."

In addition to nutritional instruction , she said the Teen Choices course promotes physical activity beyond school sports, height and weight awareness and wellness. Mueller, who is also the Del Norte School District's food services director, said she is sad to see the foods programs eliminated from next year's offerings.

The Power of Partnership

"Now they won't have anywhere to get nutritional information," Mueller said. "Now they will not learn how to cook. They will go with the fast and easy that is now a part of our culture."

Mueller's students were able to serve up breakfast thanks to a partnership with GetHealthySLV.org, which provides public outreach to improve awareness of health care services and systems, and the tools to provide a healthy lifestyle.

"We are looking at the bigger health care picture," said service-learning coordinator Elena Miller-ter Kuile . "We look at the system and what you need to be healthy."

Youth Leading Change

Miller-ter Kuile, who has also worked with Adams State University and programs in La Jara, said she was able to help the Teen Choices students identify health issues in the Del Norte community and discover solutions, like how to make breakfast in less than three minutes.

"They put together the event," Miller-ter Kuile said.  "It is wonderful to have young people like this.  They are aware and that is the first step."

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