Lucinda Banegas is an extension associate for New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension in Las Cruces, NM. We recently caught up with her to find out more about her experience with OWG.
OWG: Tell us about the scope of your responsibilities with Cooperative Extension?
Lucinda: The sole focus of my position is to run The OrganWise Guys program in conjunction with our over-arching Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition (ICAN) Program. My responsibilities include recruiting elementary schools and physician’s offices/clinics for participation in OWG and providing training and informational support for to our participants.
OWG: How did you end up using The OrganWise Guys programming?
Lucinda: The OrganWise Guys was introduced to NMSU in 2008. Since then, we have had 55 elementary schools in 18 of our 32 counties agree to participate. Schools have the option of implementing the program school-wide or even by grade levels. In some schools, the PE Instructors have taken the program on to help teach nutrition units. We are also getting ready to start recruiting clinics and pediatrician’s offices to participate in The OrganWise Guys program. The clinic/physician will receive a kid-friendly kit containing OWG materials that will help promote good nutrition and physical activity messages to children – and their parents – while in the office.
OWG: What are some creative things you’ve been able to do with the programming?
Lucinda: Our participating schools and teachers are the brains behind OWG creativity! They have made holiday parties into OWG parties in order to promote healthy foods, they air an OWG short as part of their morning announcements, and they put together project boards for Parent Night to educate parents on OWG so they can get involved. Our local public television station also airs OWG Shorts on a daily basis which really gets the message out!
OWG: One of your schools just won the Bronze Award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. How did OWG programming help this school win?
Lucinda: San Jose Elementary School in Albuquerque, NM received the award by incorporating OWG into their PE curriculum. The school was lacking a nutrition component and thought the OWG curriculum would do the trick. San Jose Elementary is one of very few schools in New Mexico that has ever been submitted for the award. It is a great accomplishment for the school and the PE Instructor has said that they feel it is directly related to the OWG curriculum!
OWG: Who is your favorite OWG character and why?
Lucinda: My favorite character is Peri Stolic! She is pretty brave to be talking about digestive health. There are a lot of kids that are not brought up to understand digestive health and are embarrassed to talk about how they feel when they are sick. I was one of those kids growing up and the OWG have really played a part in making me more comfortable talking about it as an adult. It goes to show what an impact the characters have and how important it is for the children!Thanks to Lucinda AND to Health Care Service Corporation for funding this great program!