NORTH BAY – Kelly Crawford-Bellissimo,  mother of Danika, 11, and Dakota,7, citizens of Nipissing First Nation, knew that her family needed to do something about eating healthier and living a more balanced lifestyle.“I was worried that our fast-paced lifestyle was having negative effects on food choices. I was really worried that eating on the run would be detrimental to all our health,” says Kelly, noting that she and husband Chris both work out of the home and it can be a struggle to balance work, school, after-school activities and family time.
She became aware of a March Break camp that focused not only serving healthy meals, but would teach children how to prepare meals, and about nutrition and balanced living.  The North Bay day camp called the Fruit Loops Kids Camp, is designed to teach children about health and wellness through instruction on preparing food, reading nutrition labels, understanding how food is grown and also how food is marketed to children.
Activities included a morning circle with smudging, outdoor group play, yoga, meditation, lots of time in the kitchen and crafts.  Sarah Blackwell, Fruit Loops Camp Founder and Health Coach, designed the camp to be facilitated for one week duration for children ages six years and older.  The website describes the camp opportunity as a way for children to learn “…about respecting their bodies and feeding their body healthy food, [which] gives them the confidence to be leaders among their peers when it comes to peer pressure regarding drugs and alcohol.”
This was the first year of the camp where nine participants created health posters and booklets with activities and recipes each day, in addition to preparing two snacks and one lunch meal.
Kelly says she has noticed “phenomenal” changes in her daughters since attending the camp.
“The girls are reading labels and telling everyone who will listen the importance of eating whole foods”.    Kelly says her daughters remind her that “the best label on a food is no label”, and they often encourage her to purchase whole foods that are not processed or packaged.
“They are really inspired to try new things. My youngest has been making fruit pops…and Sarah said it’s okay to try whatever combination [of fruit] you want.”
Kelly – an Anishinaabe-kwe as is camp founder Sarah — was also impressed with the camp’s cultural components.
“It was integrated in a way that my children seem to be more inspired by their culture.  The girls are now asking to smudge on a regular basis”.
She says the Fruit Loops Kids Camp experience “provided a supportive push toward good health in a holistic way for my family. Making healthy choices must be a priority but it must also be fun for children to really enjoy it. I found that my girls have much more confidence in the kitchen after their time at the camp”.
More information: http://fruitloopskidscamp.wordpress.com

Danika Bellissimo, 11, holds her healthy food messages from the March break Fruit Loops Kids Camp.

Danika Bellissimo, 11, holds her healthy food messages from the March break Fruit Loops Kids Camp.