Nutritious foods can be more delicious and exciting than any junk food!
That’s the message we want to teach high school students through our fantastic student-run cafe. Fruits, yogurt, even raw vegetables and greens make wonderful after-school refreshers when they are made into smoothies.
The Life Skills program at our school has run a vocational and pre-vocational program for several years. The program prepares young men and women with moderate and severe disabilities (e.g., Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, Developmental Delays) to work in community jobs so that they can support themselves as adults and become productive and involved members of the Portland community. Our graduates have gone on to internships and jobs in the community, improving our economy and enriching our civic culture. Recently, our café received a donation of a top-of-the-line Italian espresso machine and the opportunity to expand into the faculty lounge to set up for food service. Thus, “The Green Scene Café” is expanding to offer more than just the best espresso drinks in town. This will give our students the opportunity to operate a real food service facility within the school. Not only that, but the cafe has started opening as a student venue after school!
My Project: We are requesting a commercial blender so that we can make smoothies in our cafe. We have two goals: 1. to teach students the value of healthy alternatives to soda and sweets and 2. to facilitate social interactions among students with disabilities and those without. Our cafe is already doing some of the later, but healthy sweets will definitely help facilitate social gatherings. If we can combine the teaching of healthy lifestyles with providing a cool venue for student talent in an inclusive, integrated and community building environment, then we will have made the best possible educational use of a small appliance ever!
The obesity and poor nutrition epidemic in this country is acute in our high schools, among teens, and especially among teens with disabilities. We need to address all these issues along with the social isolation and poor job preparation of many teens with disabilities. The blender we are requesting will be the centerpiece of our program to address the physical, social, and vocational health of our kids.