Hands–on Learning at a Virginia Multicultural Center

Girl running while flying kite

Posted February 3, 2010

And it feels like... a broccoli stalk!

Since November‚ students at the Center for Multicultural Human Services (CMHS) in Falls Church‚ Virginia‚ have been using all of their senses to learn about fruits‚ vegetables‚ and eating healthy thanks to We Can!®–based programming coordinated by the Boat People SOS Inc. (BPSOS).

In September 2008‚ the Fairfax County Partners in Prevention Fund hosted a We Can! training. One of the attendees was so impressed with We Can! that she told Fairfax–based BPSOS about it. BPSOS added We Can! to the wide range of programs and services (including direct services‚ advocacy‚ community organizing and development) it offers the Vietnamese–American community nationwide through its network of 16 branch offices and many staff members.

It was one of those staff members who found We Can!s lessons so helpful that she shared them at her child’s school–Holmes Middle School–through the school’s Vietnamese Club. That program ran until the spring of 2009.

Over the course of the summer of 2009‚ BPSOS offered the Media–Smart Youth® program at its own headquarters in Fairfax‚ Virginia‚ focusing on the physical activity lessons. Fourteen children participated and‚ per Media–Smart Youth’s guidelines‚ at the end of the program they created a public service announcement (PSA) that is posted on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xztlyx0aAco).

The end of the summer‚ however‚ did not signal the end of the program. With the help of the CMHS‚ We Can!–based programming went indoors for the cooler months. CMHS was already offering the S.M.A.R.T. program (another We Can! curriculum) through its center‚ so it made sense for CMHS and BPSOS to team up. They decided to offer the programs back–to–back on a single day‚ focusing on nutrition–related lessons and providing hands–on activities ranging from smoothie–making to collage creation.

Twenty children—ten in each program—are registered to attend through February 2010.

“Kids enjoy hands–on activities no matter what age, and love to create their own things and show off what they accomplish‚” said Cam Vu Tu‚ Youth Program Coordinator at BPSOS.

Because the hands–on activities were so popular‚ BPSOS tailored its We Can!–based programming to include more of them. It made the program even more popular‚ with some children who already participated asking to do it again‚ especially creating a PSA. BPSOS has posted three PSAs devoted to eating right‚ increasing physical activity‚ and reducing screen time on YouTube‚ where they could potentially be seen by millions of people. We’ve given you one link‚ above. Cut and paste the following links into your browser to see for yourself:

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIMGVEWjXp4
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P4YNI0XWV8

Many more We Can!based activities are planned for 2010‚ according to BPSOS’s Cam Vu Tu‚ who reports that students will be designing their own t–shirt logo for the program‚ creating an advertisement‚ and creating personal sculptures.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013