On Sunday the 24th of August we had our last Food Ninja engagement day with the kids of PPR Kota Damansara. With heavy hearts we tried to make it a memorable day for the children and to leave them with a strong positive message. We have learned so much about one another over the several weekends, information and understanding that can hopefully be put to good use for any other interested group of people who wish to pursue similar activities in this particular PPR.
We had invited the children’s parents to attend the second half of this final engagement to attend the mini graduation ceremony. Prior to their arrival, we started the day with the usual “Go Bananas!”, a fond war cry loved by both the children and the volunteers.
We continued with the workshop completion activity. For each engagement we gave out different exercise sheets for the children to reflect on at home, we wanted to make sure each of the children had a complete workbook that they could keep with them. We gave out hard cover pages and material so they could decorate and personalize each of their workbooks.
Next up we had the fruit art activity to create art using fruit meant for the parents. We found that fruit art is also a great way to get kids excited about eating fruits. We prepared the fruits before-hand and allowed the children to pick as many different fruits as they wanted in their groups for their design. The design was a group effort and it got the children to design something together for their parents.
We had a quick snack after this and waited for the parents to arrive. As most of the children are a family of five or over, it was understandable that most parents were tied up with all manner of things on a Sunday morning, we were lucky to get four parents and guardians to make it and be present for the event. A few of the children were cousins or shared a guardian and so those who attended represented more than one child each. After presenting their fruit art it didn’t take the children long at all to devour the fruit!
The graduation ceremony began at around 11am. We started with a short presentation by Chris from the UNDP to explain the motive behind the project to the children and adults. Next, Charmaine from AIESEC Sunway gave a brief introduction on AIESEC and then Will from AIESEC UK gave an introduction of the five international EP’s. The interns prepared a short video montage of the project which we all watched together, the children loved seeing themselves on screen. We also selected a number of children to explain each engagement weekend through a short presentation. This was a way to show the parents what we have been doing with their children.
We were also fortunate to have Sharen Lim, a UKM nutritionist graduate to give a short discussion on healthy living to the parents. It was lovely to see the parents interacting and sharing insights on getting their children to eat better. We then called each one of the children to receive their Food Ninja completion certificate, a button badge and ninja headband. After a long round of good byes and numerous group hugs it was time to say goodbye to the children. We ended with a final loud Go Banana’s and wished the children well.
We knew of course before starting the project, the risk of short term engagement and how difficult it would be to say goodbye. We hope we gave the children enough reminders of the length of the project to manage all parties expectations. We also hope that some of the messages we had shared stays on with the children. It has been an incredible adventure so far, for each and every one of us. We all started from a complete blank slate and finished with a room of 18 very happy children.
You can also find out more about this project via AIESEC Sunway’s THUMP Webpage.
Yasmin Lane is the research lead at #BetterCities. She graduated with a degree in International Relations and has since shifted her interest from the people and institutions that make up the city to learning new ways of shaping and improving the structures of the city itself.