Pan American Health and Education FoundationThe Pan American Health and Education Foundation

Lyrics for Life

Project Promotes Creation of Community Gardens by School Children to Encourage Healthy Lifestyles

The Pan American Health and Education Foundation (PAHEF) is committed to preventing childhood obesity and promoting healthy lifestyles that ultimately empower each individual to take charge of his or her own health. 

As childhood obesity and poor eating habits have become the norm in many parts of the Western Hemisphere, PAHEF provided a grant to INMED Partnerships for Children to reverse the trend and teach children healthy habits in an area outside of Kingston, Jamaica.

Picture a school where children are encouraged by teachers, parents, and administrators to be creative, active, and healthy—where learning is not confined by the walls of classrooms or textbook-set curriculums. These are the aims of Lyrics for Life, a program designed to promote health and wellbeing for more than 1,000 children in a marginalized slum.

 INMED coach demonstrates to teachers in Trenchtown fun, new exercise routines they can teach students

Lyrics for Life is made up of several activities, including:

•    Instruction for teachers in healthy lifestyles and nutrition education
•    A song-writing project for students; and
•    The creation of a community garden where students, teachers, and neighbors can work together to increase their consumption of healthy foods

The program works hand-in-hand with local schools, government ministries, a foundation, and the private sector to reduce childhood obesity and create strong foundations to foster healthy lifestyles. With a focus on children ages 7 to 11, Lyrics for Life has changed the way students at Trenchtown Primary and Iris Gelly Primary schools eat, play, live, and learn. Exciting and innovative projects actively engage children and their families, ensuring a successful and sustainable program with community impact.

To develop the mind as well as the body, Lyrics for Life has collaborated with local musicians to create a music club for students. This aspect of the project encourages children to express themselves while writing lyrics about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The program also created an instruction manual on healthy lifestyles as a resource for teachers. The manual includes important information to help teachers identify problems resulting from poverty, such as malnutrition and obesity, and to develop fun, interactive curricula focused on health and nutrition. In addition to receiving the manual, 20 teachers were trained by Lyrics for Life in core educational topics including: nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and gardening.

To encourage overall wellbeing, Lyrics for Life transformed vacant areas into fruit and vegetable gardens. There, students learn to garden and incorporate nutritious ingredients into meals. The space also is used for science and physical education classes, creating an opportunity for kids to literally dig in to what they are learning about.  

The lifestyle changes inspired by Lyrics for Life are important in improving the overall health in Trenchtown. PAHEF hopes that this project and others like it will help today’s children learn healthy habits that they can carry with them through adulthood.

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