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News Feature

“What do we want? CLIMATE JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!… Now can I get back to class?”

Micah Geiringer and Ollie Langridge (read the article here) are two of an increasing number of people willing to inconvenience themselves and their own lives, in order to call for action on climate change. However, these school students faced personal consequences for their actions, perhaps most importantly, affecting their own education by missing up to 100 days of school. While Michael claims he doesn’t have any regrets, instead choosing to focus on the bigger picture of what his future will hold, is this a choice we should be promoting for our students, our leaders of tomorrow? For me, the answer is a Big. Fat. YES.

There is a lot to be learnt during protests, involving education on the current climate we are living in, how we are affecting it, and what our future looks like if we keep going at this rate. Furthermore, there is a lot to learn about who we are affecting, the different groups and individuals who will be impacted by our careless actions. For instance, in a first-world country such as NZ, it is important to recognise that our actions will firstly impact citizens in third-world countries. While many of us would claim to care deeply about groups of people living in third-world countries known to face extreme poverty, are we aware that when we are wasteful with resources, support the meat & dairy industry, or use uneconomical amounts of fuel, we are directly making their lives more challenging. This happens as our emissions increase the temperature of their climates, our rubbish increases the amount of waste that will be dumped in their surrounding oceans. Are we aware that these actions are raising the water levels of the ocean, ultimately drowning the homes of people living on small islands? Are we aware that after this happens to them, it will happen to us? I don’t think we are, and until school is educating students of these issues, it is important this information is found elsewhere.

However, beyond just educating ourselves, students attending protests drives home the point to our leaders that unless serious changes are implemented, there will be unimaginable consequences for their replacements – the children of today. We are directly showing them how urgent this issue is and how seriously we take it. By protesting, students are not looking to skip school, they are taking actions that will help create a better future for everyone. Ultimately, they are establishing a future that they will be able to use their education in.

The interesting thing about protesting for the environment and for climate justice is that it is both selfless and selfish at the same time. While students are protesting for a better future for themselves, they are also protesting for a better future for every single human on earth. Every single one! People are often unaware that climate change will ultimately impact all of us negatively: there is nothing beneficial about living in a world in which we cannot breathe the fresh air, in which we cannot swim in the ocean, in which we cannot survive as a species. Unlike many other protest movements, there is not a single group who will be negatively impacted by the changes being demanded.

Ultimately, we will all benefit from climate justice. Likewise, we will all be negatively impacted if changes are not made. So yes, this issue is serious and yes it is urgent and yes it must be listened to – ASAP. If the adults leading and living in our world will not make the necessary changes for our future, then us students must make them ourselves.

Of course education is important, but we must first look after the world that we are educated in. So stop being wasteful and start being resourceful, stop letting people tell you this isn’t an issue and start educating them on its urgency, and most importantly – get out into the streets and demand change. It’s now or never, kids!

The Importance of Sleep:

The average kid has a busy day. There’s school, taking care of your pets, running around with friends, going to extra-curricular activities, and doing your homework. By the end of the day, your body needs a break. So even though you feel like you want to watch the next episode, read the next chapter, reach the next level, or stay chatting to your friends, it’s no surprise your parents are calling out: “OFF TO BED!”

Sleep allows your body to rest for the next day. Everything that’s alive needs sleep to survive. Even your dog or cat curls up for naps. Some animals spend as many as 20 hours a day sleeping! Animals sleep for the same reason you do — to give your body a tiny vacation.

Your body and your brain need sleep. Though no one is exactly sure what work the brain does when you’re sleeping, some scientists think that the brain sorts through and stores information, replaces chemicals, and solves problems while you snooze. Unfortunately, most Kiwi Kids probably aren’t getting enough sleep, as experts agree that most need 10 or 11 hours each night. However, sleep is an individual thing and some kids need more than others.

When your body doesn’t have enough hours to rest, you may feel tired or cranky, or you may be unable to think clearly. You might have a hard time following directions, or you might have an argument with a friend over something really stupid. A school assignment that’s normally easy may feel impossible, or you may feel clumsy playing your favourite sport or instrument.

It seems weird, but an extra hours sleep that night could have solved the problem before it even existed.

One more reason to get enough sleep: If you don’t, you may not grow as well. That’s right, researchers believe too little sleep can affect growth and your immune system — which keeps you from getting sick. Mother Nature protected us when we were babies, by making sure we spent about 50 percent of our time in a deep sleep essential for adequate growth. We may look peaceful when we are sleeping, but really our brains are busy all night long. However, as we grow older there can be too many distractions around us to get this ‘deep sleep.’

So I guess that’s why our parents are constantly nagging us to get to bed! All this time I thought they wanted some peace and quiet, but it looks like there is a lot more to it than that. Sleep helps us to be happy and healthy – both now and in the future.

Apparently, adults want to go to bed early and sleep in all the time? Maybe we should enjoy these long-nights-sleep while we can!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. How can not getting enough sleep affect your behaviour at school? How can getting lots of sleep help you?
  2. Why do we not sleep for as long as other animals?
  3. What is our brain doing while it is dreaming?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Do you have trouble sleeping? What are some good ways to try and combat this?
  2. Write down how many hours of sleep you are getting each night for a week. Do you need to get more sleep? Try and make sure by the end of the week you are getting at least 10 hours per night.
  3. Go take a nap!

Did you at your lunch? That’s a phrase we’ve all been asked before, isn’t it? Our parents would check our lunchboxes after school, searching for a trace of an uneaten sandwich. They told us eating our lunch and finishing our dinner was key to growing up healthy and strong. But when adults constantly seem to be dieting and restricting what they eat, why do they want us kids to finish off every last bite?

Just a small bit of research tells me that what we eat and drink during our early years can affect our health for many years to come. General eating habits are formed in the first few years of life, so it is important that we eat good, wholesome and nutritious food. Just like a mobile phone needs to be recharged every day, so does the human body. We need to eat food and drink water every day to keep our bodies going. Food gives us the energy to grow, play games, be healthy and learn. This means eating nutritious food, and plenty of it!

The connection between eating well and being ready to face the world makes sense for most of us. From candy bar commercials asserting “you’re not you” when you’re hungry, to the word “hangry” for that bad mood we fall into when we’re hungry. But as we are growing, this is no laughing matter. A lack of nutritious food can leave us at risk for developmental delays, which have serious effects in terms of long-term academic and social development. 

However, eating a healthy diet is far from simple. We make the majority of our food choices based on their enjoyment factor. In fact, eating is such an enjoyable experience that we often choose to eat foods that taste very good, but that don’t make us feel very good afterward. We also enjoy these foods so much that we eat more than our bodies actually need!

It’s a lot of work to eat healthy; it takes discipline and isn’t always fun, so why bother? Well, the health of your body is the determining factor for what kind of lifestyle you can lead in the future. Just like a smoker faces a possible future of lung cancer, if you neglect healthy eating habits you not only face a possible future of being overweight or obese, you also run the risk of depression, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more. The choices you make each day – from what to eat for breakfast to whether or not to have another slice of cake – affect how you feel and how you perform, which as you may be able to guess, affects everything you do.

A good place to start is to challenge yourself to come up with some new healthy eating habits every day. Instead of trying to cut out all the “bad” foods you eat, like sweets, soda, candy, and other junk food, it’s much easier to start by adding more healthy foods to your diet, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes. This way, you will slowly be replacing the bad food with the good food and won’t be left with a huge void where your bad foods once were. This will make it easier to let go of some of your most unhealthy ‘favourite’ foods.

So choose the apple over the brownie, the sandwich over the doughnut, the homemade dinner over the happy meal – the future you will thank you!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What positive implications will eating healthy have on you in the future?
  2. Is it too late to change a bad diet?
  3. What effect does unhealthy food have on the body?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Think of five of your favourite foods, then think of five healthy alternatives. Try and incorporate these into your diet.
  2. Write down the food that you eat in a week – do you need to make some changes or are you doing well? Include how much water you are drinking also.
  3. Challenge a friend or a sibling to make some healthy diet changes with you. They don’t have to be huge changes, just a small alteration that will help you be healthier in the long run.

“Were you born in a tent?” You turn around to see your dad standing there looking at you with an expression that says, “are you kidding me?”
The only problem is, you have no idea what he means. Well, research reveals that what he expressly means when he uses this phrase is simply that he wants you to close the door. However, what he really means is that he wants you to keep warm. Whether it makes sense or not, this is his unique way of caring about you.

It’s not unusual for parents to express themselves in strange ways… We all know this from what seems like a lifetime of embarrassment! But is it unusual to worry about a tiny breeze coming in, when we are so often exposed to the cold and the outdoors? Why does it matter that we stay completely toasty-warm in some instances, and in other instances when we are cold we are told to “toughen up?” Which is the right advice to follow?

Let me provide some examples here! It seems acceptable to be cold when: swimming in the pool, training for cross-country, visiting the snow, walking to school on a windy day, on a wintry day but you have to eat lunch outside like usual, the list goes on. However, if you leave the door ajar and the slightest breeze drifts in to your house you are immediately told off. When you are walking out the door to go out, I bet your mum always tells you to go back and get a jacket – even if its barely cold! So why is it that sometimes we get asked if we were born in a tent, and sometimes we feel like we wish we were in a tent – at least it would be warmer than sitting on the frosty school field at 9am in your P.E. shorts! 

This is a difficult question as there doesn’t seem to be a direct answer! From what I can tell, sometimes adults think that a little bit of cold won’t hurt you, but the majority of the time, they want us to be toasty and warm. As it turns out, the effects of cold weather go beyond the feelings of numbness we may develop. Coincidentally, a shiver serves almost the same purpose as a fever. It’s a warning from our body that we’ve gotten too cold, and bad things will happen unless we warm up again. I guess that is why sometimes it is okay to be cold for a short period of time, so long as you are quick to warm up again!

One of the best ways to keep healthy is to keep warm as the cold weather can affect your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections. It’s unlikely that staying warm will be a matter of life and death, but it could be a matter of health and well-being.

I guess that’s why it wouldn’t be ideal to be raised in a tent! You’d probably catch your death after all. So make sure you stay wrapped up nice and warm this winter – as my grandma says:

Whether the weather is hot,

Whether the weather is not,

We’ll weather the weather,

Whatever the weather,

Whether we like it or not!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What happens to your body if it gets too cold? What are the different stages.
  2. What can you do if you are too cold to warm up properly?
  3. How do our bodies handle the different weather during the winter? Are we made to handle the cold?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Think of some of the sayings your parents have said to make sure you stay warm. Do you friends hear the same sort of things from their parents?
  2. Do you prefer the winter cold or the summer heat? Why?
  3. What is a situation where you are cold but you don’t mind? (i.e. going swimming in the ocean in the middle of winter but you don’t mind because you’re having a great time with your mates).

Turn the lights off! I bet we’ve all heard this one before. A while ago, we might have thought nothing of this phrase. We probably would have thought, what does it matter if a lightbulb stays on a little too long? Is it really a big deal? Unfortunately for us, it is a big deal. In fact, anything involving the use of power is a big deal in today’s world. Earth isn’t as healthy as it used to be – and us humans are to blame. However, while we are the problem, we are also the only solution. It’s up to us to make big little changes that have a big effect! So maybe “turn the lights off” means a bit more than we think.

Before the invention of the light bulb, illuminating the world after the sun went down was a messy, hazardous task. It took a bunch of candles or torches to fully light up a good-sized room. So while it is awesome that Sir Thomas Edison invented an affordable electrical home lighting device, what isn’t awesome is the amount of power it can use. While each lightbulb doesn’t appear to use that much, lighting accounts for 15% of global electricity consumption and 5 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. That is a lot for a few lightbulbs. Luckily for us, some awesome dude named Alexandre Edmond Becquerel discovered in 1839 that electricity can be generated from sunlight – calling this Solar energy.

Solar power is the key to a clean energy future. Every day, the sun gives off far more energy than we need to power everything on earth. Solar panels produce electricity by transforming the continuous flow of energy from the sun to electricity. Additionally, solar panels are carbon dioxide free. No harmful emissions are released into the air when electricity is produced by solar panels. Even better, the costs of operating solar panels are low as the process that transforms sunlight into electricity doesn’t require any fuel and has no large variable costs.

Solar energy is a major renewable energy source with the potential to meet many of the challenges facing the world. Luckily for us, this power source is increasing in popularity because it is versatile and is beneficial both to people and to the environment. But it hasn’t been fully implemented yet! We still have a way to go – which is where Kiwi Kids come in.

It’s tricky for us Kiwi Kids to take action as most of us don’t own our own homes yet, we live with our parents or elsewhere. Therefore, we can’t demand that we only use solar power as it isn’t really our decision. What we can do, is make sure we know how important solar power is so that when the time comes, we do use it. If your parents are renovating, suggest solar power. If you hear that your grandparents are buying a new house, try and mention solar power. When you finally build your dream home – make sure it has solar power!

Maybe when you have kids, you will never have to yell, “Turn the lights off!” Maybe.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. Why is it a problem if the Earth uses a lot of power?
  2. What can solar powers be used for other than for lighting in the house?
  3. What other benefits can come from using solar panels?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Do you think that solar panels will work as well as the modern lightbulb? Why or why not?
  2. If solar panels were invented in 1839, why do more people not use them in this day and age?
  3. Ask your parents if they would be interested in using solar panels in the house, if possible!

“Were you born in a tent?” You turn around to see your dad standing there looking at you with an expression that says, “are you kidding me?” The only problem is, you have no idea what he means. Well, research reveals that what he expressly means when he uses this phrase is simply that he wants you to close the door. However, what he really means is that he wants you to keep warm. Whether it makes sense or not, this is his unique way of caring about you.

It’s not unusual for parents to express themselves in strange ways… We all know this from what seems like a lifetime of embarrassment! But is it unusual to worry about a tiny breeze coming in, when we are so often exposed to the cold and the outdoors? Why does it matter that we stay completely toasty-warm in some instances, and in other instances when we are cold we are told to “toughen up?” Which is the right advice to follow?

Let me provide some examples here! It seems acceptable to be cold when: swimming in the pool, training for cross-country, visiting the snow, walking to school on a windy day, on a wintry day but you have to eat lunch outside like usual, the list goes on. However, if you leave the door ajar and the slightest breeze drifts in to your house you are immediately told off. When you are walking out the door to go out, I bet your mum always tells you to go back and get a jacket – even if its barely cold! So why is it that sometimes we get asked if we were born in a tent, and sometimes we feel like we wish we were in a tent – at least it would be warmer than sitting on the frosty school field at 9am in your P.E. shorts! 

This is a difficult question as there doesn’t seem to be a direct answer! From what I can tell, sometimes adults think that a little bit of cold won’t hurt you, but the majority of the time, they want us to be toasty and warm. As it turns out, the effects of cold weather go beyond the feelings of numbness we may develop. Coincidentally, a shiver serves almost the same purpose as a fever. It’s a warning from our body that we’ve gotten too cold, and bad things will happen unless we warm up again. I guess that is why sometimes it is okay to be cold for a short period of time, so long as you are quick to warm up again!

One of the best ways to keep healthy is to keep warm as the cold weather can affect your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections. It’s unlikely that staying warm will be a matter of life and death, but it could be a matter of health and well-being.

I guess that’s why it wouldn’t be ideal to be raised in a tent! You’d probably catch your death after all. So make sure you stay wrapped up nice and warm this winter – as my grandma says:

Whether the weather is hot,

Whether the weather is not,

We’ll weather the weather,

Whatever the weather,

Whether we like it or not!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What happens to your body if it gets too cold? What are the different stages.
  2. What can you do if you are too cold to warm up properly?
  3. How do our bodies handle the different weather during the winter? Are we made to handle the cold?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. Think of some of the sayings your parents have said to make sure you stay warm. Do you friends hear the same sort of things from their parents?
  2. Do you prefer the winter cold or the summer heat? Why?
  3. What is a situation where you are cold but you don’t mind? (i.e. going swimming in the ocean in the middle of winter but you don’t mind because you’re having a great time with your mates).

Mind your manners!” “Watch your tongue!” “Remember your p’s and q’s!

How am I supposed to ‘mind’ my manners, they’re not something that runs away? How can I ‘watch’ my tongue when I can barely see it? Why do I need to remember my p’s and q’s, I haven’t forgotten the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’? None of this makes sense! Most of us heard phrases like this as we grew up, because our parents were teaching us manners. Many of us will do the same thing with our children in the future. But why do we bother? What is so important about teaching manners, anyway?

For one thing, having good manners meets a social expectation – it seems to be a part of life that kids are expected to have good manners, and will earn more respect when they do. Whether this seems fair or not, it is just a way of life. While it may seem rude for people to judge you for not having good manners, in reality, if you act without good manners they will think that you are the one being rude to them.  At the heart of good manners is a respect for oneself and others. Good manners convey a sense of respect for other people. When you say “thank you,” you’re taking the time to make the other person feel appreciated. Saying “please” respects a person’s right to decide for themselves and is less demanding.

Another thing to consider is the role good manners play in your future. At the end of the day, good manners can make or break an opportunity. For instance, if you are up for your first job and your credentials match another candidate’s, the more polite person may end up with the job. Even just in general, you are likely to find that good manners go a long way in endearing yourself to teachers, coaches, and peers. Simply put, you will probably be more successful in life with good manners.

While no one is perfect, imagine a culture where good manners just don’t exist – not a pleasant thought! Good manners set a standard of behaviour against which other behaviour can be measured, which helps keep order and civility in society. Manners never go out of style. They are even more important in a world that is neglecting them. In our increasingly rude world, manners are always appreciated by teachers, friends, adults and even strangers. Standing out from the crowd is a good thing. Making eye contact, shaking hands, offering assistance and putting your phone away at the dinner table is still appreciated habits. Saying please and thank you, holding the door for someone and helping an elderly or pregnant woman with her groceries are all examples of good manners that people of all ages, nationalities and economic backgrounds appreciate!

In today’s world there are unfortunately a lot of things we will do that will upset or annoy people, even if we do not mean to. However, with good manners and good attitude, you are much closer to working out these differences and coming to an understanding. So the next time your parents are hissing in your ear, “Say thank you,” “Sit up straight,” “Shake hands,” “Say please,” “MIND YOUR MANNERS,” hopefully it will all make a bit more sense.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. Where/when did the idea of good manners originate in history?
  2. How has the ideal of “good manners” changed over time?
  3. Why are “good manners” still important in a society that rewards typically bad-mannered people, such a Donald Trump?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. What is an example of good manners? What positive effect will it have?
  2. What is an example of bad manners? What negative effect will it have?
  3. How can you improve people’s perception of you if you have previously had bad manners? Is it too late to improve? Where is a good place to start?

Have you brushed your teeth today? Yes, I’m talking to you. Have you brushed your teeth today? My guess is that you have… at least I hope so. You’ve probably brushed your teeth almost every day of your life since you had teeth. It’s a pretty logical thing to do. It prevents cavities, bad breath and gum disease as well as a bunch of other great health benefits. But you probably don’t think about all those reasons when you brush, do you? You just do it because it’s a good habit you’ve developed (or it feels gross if you don’t).

So where does this habit begin? Rules or advice can come from a dentist or a health professional giving great advice, but a habit comes from being reminded or encouraged to do something every-single-day until you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

Brushing your teeth is one of the important lessons our parents teach us from an early age. We are taught that our teeth are important in many ways. If we take care of them, they’ll help take care of us. Strong, healthy teeth will help us chew the right foods to help us grow tall and strong. They will help us speak clearly. And yes, they will help us look our best. You can’t just go to the dentist once every six months and get a really intense, professional cleaning and call it a day. You gotta brush daily! The lesson here is that when it comes to the things that matter, consistency beats intensity.

However, if you want a different sort of motivation to brush your teeth regularly, just think about the history of teeth-brushing. We are lucky that we know so much now about taking care of our teeth. Long ago, as people got older, their teeth would rot away and be very painful. To get rid of a toothache, they had their teeth pulled out. Finally, people learned that cleaning their teeth was important, but they didn’t have toothpaste right away. While you’re swishing that minty-fresh paste around your mouth, remember people long ago used to use ground-up chalk or charcoal, lemon juice, ashes or even tobacco and honey mixed together. Yuck! It was only about 100 years ago someone finally created a minty cream to clean teeth.

So now it hopefully makes a bit more sense as to why your parents are constantly nagging you to brush your teeth. My mum used to smell our breath to see if it smelt minty or would check if the toothbrush was wet to see if we had truly brushed. Not only that but she would send us back into the bathroom after a minute of brushing to make sure we completed another two minutes. At the time it seemed way over the top and used to drive us crazy, but now I couldn’t be more grateful. I’ve never had a filling and my teeth are still sparkly clean. Not only that, but I don’t even think about brushing my teeth as a chore anymore, I just think of it as a regular part of my day. To me, that is the way it should be. 

So yes, mum, I have brushed my teeth!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. What happens if you don’t brush your teeth?
  2. What are three more things you can do for your teeth, other than brushing them? This can involve particular foods to eat/avoid, other methods of cleaning them, etc.
  3. In what year was toothpaste invented and how has it developed since then?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. What would happen if no one in the world brushed their teeth?
  2. Make a journal this week of the number of times you brushed your teeth and how long for each time. If it was less than three minutes, twice a day then you need to increase your brushing!
  3. Think of new and interesting ways to make brushing your teeth a fun habit. This could mean listening to your favourite song for the duration of brushing your teeth, etc.

The Importance of Being Organised:

You step into your room and stumble upon something hard that hurts you, you have to tiptoe your way around because there is not enough space to walk, your bed has huge piles of clothing spread everywhere, your table groans under books, schoolwork, cups, and all other kinds of stuff, and your closet looks like a shopping mall gone wrong. You shut the door and try not to think about it, but you know the inevitable is coming. You hear your mum open the door, she takes in a huge breath of air, you wince, and then you hear it: “TIDY YOUR ROOM!”

We’ve all been there. Sometimes life gets too busy and the mess starts to increase without you even noticing it. At the end of the day, you just don’t have the energy to begin cleaning it. You convince yourself that the importance of being organised isn’t as important as getting a good night’s sleep – so you leave it until tomorrow. And then the next day. And then the next. You get the picture. Well unfortunately, I’m here to nervously claim that being organised is extremely important – one of the most important things you can do to help improve your life in countless ways. Being organised can be shown in all different ways, but a tidy room is a place that everyone can start.

That brings me to my first pointer. Tidy your room at the very beginning of the day, rather than the end. That way, you will feel the benefits as your day goes on. Your room is the place where you start your day. Whether you are aware of it or not, the physical space in which you live and spend a lot of your time has an important role to play in how we behave. Having a bedroom in such a messed state can have pretty bad effects on your life. Our mind is not completely independent from our environment; basically, keeping the room tidy, organized, and clean keeps your thoughts in order. A tidy home = a tidy mind!

Making your bed each morning seems like the least of our worries in the morning. However, it may be the best way to start off your day. If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.

The benefits of tidying your room and organizing your space not only lets you know about the stuff that you have, but it can also save you a lot of time, since you will know where to find something when you need it. Now, when you wake up early in the morning, you don’t have to search frantically for your P.E. shoes, your school tie, or last-night’s homework. The start of your day will be a smooth one instead, and you will be able to make it out of the door to school on time. Tidying your room also brings with itself some health benefits. When your bedroom becomes a peaceful and ordered place with no clutter around, you will feel less stressed and less distracted. You can spend relaxing time before bed and go to sleep calmly.

No doubt, cleaning up a really messy room and streamlining your surroundings is no easy job but, with a little determination and taking a methodical approach, it is totally doable. You just need to get started. Believe me, a straightened room with a made bed and pile-free floor will change your life!

Critical Thinking Questions:

  1. Think about some of the benefits of a tidy room compared with the effort of keeping the room tidy. Is it worth the hard work?
  2. What positive things can come from having a messy room? Are there any at all?
  3. What other benefits of being tidy? Would it improve your social life? Your mental health?

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. How often do you clean your room? Do you think you need to clean it more? Or less!
  2. Think of a way you can ensure you start each day with a clean room and an organised mind. Would this involve getting up five minutes earlier? Or getting ready for school five minutes faster? Try and think of a way to make this work.
  3. TIDY YOUR ROOM! (Send a classmate a photo of your tidy room as proof!)

Eat your vegetables. Five plus a day. Get your greens. Don’t you want to grow up big and strong? Yes, yes, yes, of course I do! But are veggies really as crucial as they are made to seem. Why do adults make me think that eating my vegetables will give me superpowers? Are carrots really going to give me night-vision? I doubt it! But at the end of the day, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables loaded with colour somehow give kids a protective armour (and even adults too). Maybe we should think of them as superpowers. The bright and vibrant colours found in veggies and fruits offer kids impressive health advantages, so beneficial they end up having effects similar to superpowers…  

Let’s start at the beginning. Fruit and vegetables are some of the first foods we eat when we are really little, even if they are blended up into some sort of mash. When we get used to trying different fruits and vegetables, we become more adventurous about trying a variety of new and nutritious tastes and textures. Being adventurous is definitely a superhero quality. Eating plenty of green vegetables (kale, cabbage and broccoli, for example) helps kids build strong bodies from head to toe. That means strong bones, teeth and nails—all important for leaping between tall buildings in a high-speed chase.

Including orange foods in our daily diet provides loads of vitamin C, an important defence against infection. Fruits like oranges or cantaloupes can arm us with protection against the germs we encounter at every turn. Protection against enemies… sounds pretty impressive! Beyond this, blue and purple foods can help enhance kids’ memories. Foods like blueberries and eggplant can help boost school performance, maybe to NCEA Excellence endorsements… and beyond! Foods packed with vitamin A and beta carotene help kids see better, even in the dark. So maybe carrots will actually give me night-vision!

Just like a suit of armour, eating fruits and vegetables offers powerful protection. Yellow foods, like pineapples, are full of antioxidants that fight cell-damaging molecules. Some fruits contain a chemical that protects against heart disease and cancer. And let’s not forget white foods, like bananas, that help keep our heart and lungs strong and healthy. Time to fight off those enemies.

Look, I know it sounds corny and maybe those superpowers don’t seem as impressive as moving things with your mind or running at 100 miles per hour. But really, how many times have you heard the phrase “eat your vegetables,” how many times have adults tried to convince you to want to eat fruit and veggies? They may not think it will turn you into a superhero, but they do know it will make you super. The importance of healthy eating is HUGE. Nothing is better for your body than fuelling it correctly, and there is nothing like vegetables for doing this. So please, be a superhero, be a normal kid, be a healthy kid, be a super kid – just please, be a vegetable-eating-kid!

Critical Questions:

  1. What does the importance of healthy eating mean to you?
  2. Do you think that vegetables are the most important food to eat, or is there something you think you should be eating more?  
  3. What are some risks you can incur if you do not eat any vegetables… ever?  

Practical Thinking Questions:

  1. What is a way you can eat a big amount of vegetables and not get sick of them?
  2.  Write down the vegetables you ate each day for an entire week. At the end of the week try and figure out if you need to be eating more.  
  3. Think about your least favourite vegetables. What is a way you can cook/eat these that you will enjoy?