This poster will present the experience of the EDUCAMOS program in the implementation of a strategy that is contributing to improving students’ and teachers’ health and nutrition knowledge and habits and improving the interest and reading skills of children in the rural area of Guatemala, by using reading quality materials. The Education Program with Quality and Improved Food Oriented towards Sustainability- EDUCAMOS- is a USDA-funded program. It is executed by Project Concern International-PCI- with Juárez & Associates, Inc. (J&A). The program works in improving students’ nutrition and bilingual reading outcomes in six municipalities in the Mam and Q’anjob’al linguistic regions of Huehuetenango, a department in Guatemala’s Western Highlands, the department with the highest numbers of migrants to the US. The Human Development Index (HDI) of Huehuetenango is 0.399 and in education, the HDI is 0.371 (UNDP, 2016). Likewise, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition or height delay is 54.5% in first-grade students (SESAN, 2015). The project is implemented in complex rural conditions, with infrastructure conditions often precarious, with little access to basic services such as water, electricity, and toilets, among others.
Education and nutrition are fundamental rights of children for their integral development. Promoting and ensuring these rights is the responsibility of parents, community and the State. The work to be presented is based on evidence indicating that education is an effective means to promote and maintain a healthy lifestyle and encourage healthy eating practices (Li & Powdthavee, 2014). Reading is fundamental in the educational process. Reading is also a basic competency that improves children’s knowledge about health and nutrition, encourages and fosters behaviors that favor their health (Feinstein, et al., 2006). At the same time, a healthy and nourished child will have improved cognitive abilities, a greater disposition for learning and improved school performance (DesJardins and & Schuller, 2006). It’s important that teachers implement effective literacy methodologies, and have quality reading materials for children, particularly on topics that promote healthy habits.
It will also expose the challenges and lessons learned in the development and use of quality reading resources, with health and nutrition issues, that are consistent with the context, and that can be considered on other education or nutrition projects or contexts on a broader scale. This includes considering the level of reading of the students, the particularities of the Mayan languages, the practices of raising indigenous communities, as well as the pedagogical approach to topics that have had little to no address in this context. Reading materials will be made available for review and discussion. Implications for programmatic interventions addressing malnourishment, health, and early grades literacy will be discussed.
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The materials were designed to provide information on healthy eating habits, food choices, and physical exercise. Upon analyzing the results, it was found that the children who were exposed to the reading materials showed a significant improvement in their understanding of healthy eating habits, and were able to identify the nutritional value of different types of foods.
The findings highlight the importance of educational interventions in promoting healthy behaviors and improving the well-being of marginalized populations. Additionally, the study provides valuable insights for educators and policymakers in designing effective interventions for children’s health promotion and education.
The study provides insights into the importance of adopting effective strategies to improve the awareness and education of children on crucial topics such as health and nutrition. Through a comprehensive analysis of the data collected, researchers were able to identify trends and patterns that highlight the significance of promoting healthy habits in children from an early age.
Changes in children’s health and nutrition knowledge and skills using reading materials is an important topic that has generated widespread interest in recent years.