On March 2, Kansas City Community Gardens’ partner KC Healthy Kids held their first annual Kids Summit.
The Kids Summit hosted over 200 students from schools throughout the metro, and was part competition and part conference for 3rd through 8th graders who participated in the KC Healthy Kids I Am Here youth photo contest. For the contest, the students submitted photos of how their schools and communities empowered them to be healthy or how their schools and communities needed to improve their health.
Children play outside, walk to school, eat multiple meals at school, and thus have a great understanding of how their communities are succeeding in health, and can easily recognize areas for improvement.
At the summit, students heard stories of adults who had worked hard to address a problem in their community, and the students were given the opportunity to ask questions. Questions such as “Why did you choose that problem?” “Did you want to give up?” “What did you do when you were told no?” “Does it ever get easy?” Were just a few of the student questions that were posed to the speakers. As the questions were answered, students around the room vigorously took notes, and asked follow up questions. As a spectator, it was energizing to see the students inspired by the speakers and eager to share their excitement about addressing the issue within their own community.
The students also attended breakout sessions that addressed a variety of healthy activities and programs that the students could learn more about and take back to their school community.
The Schoolyard Gardens program was happy to work with eight schools that have existing schoolyard gardens to plan for their upcoming spring planting season. Each school went home with a planting plan and garden map that the students created. Fifth grade students from the newly enrolled Schoolyard Garden at Indian Creek Elementary created three garden maps which they took back to their school to share with the entire building. The students will refer to these maps later this month when they are getting their garden planted.
Schools that do not have schoolyard gardens were also in attendance. The students from these four area schools worked together to create an action plan to bring a garden to their campus. They discussed why they wanted a garden, what it would provide the school, and who would be involved in the garden. The students then created a checklist of what they should discuss with their school administrations to persuade them to help fund and build a garden.
Finally, the summit highlighted the top student-led project idea. Stony Point North, a Kansas City, Kansas public school, was recognized for their efforts to enhance the health of their school and neighborhood community. Last year, students used their award from KC Healthy Kids to build a schoolyard garden and plant a Giving Grove orchard. The excitement from their first project inspired the students to create a walking trail around the entire school campus. They plan to use their prize from this year to cover some of this cost. The 5th graders from Stony Point North spoke about their excitement over the existing garden and their hope that the walking trail would not only be used by themselves, but also by the wider community. The students advocated on behalf of themselves and their whole school community. One student stated, “We are the future of our Kansas City community, and we want to be healthy.”