Whole Earth: The Future of Food
Nature Links is excited to announce our summer program, Whole Earth. We offer young adults with disabilities the opportunity to gain a broad range of knowledge, life skills, and valuable job training while exploring our summer theme of The Future of Food – how what we eat impacts our health, our community, and our planet. We will be based at the (old) Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, 3280 S. Miami Ave. in Miami.
Designed to get students excited about learning, the program engages students in innovative and creative activities such as making videos, starting a garden, art projects, travel training, and taking field trips around Miami as they learn how to become independent and self-supported adults. We will be working with UM professor and documentary filmmaker Sanjeev Chatterjee and his students as we learn iMovie production for Nature Links News segments, seeking to empower our students as interpreters of the natural world.
Our summer program is composed of two courses, Cycles of Nature and Making News for Healthy Communities. Cycles of Nature will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays, Making News for Healthy Communities will meet Mondays and Wednesdays, and the two courses will come together on Fridays for field trips. We encourage students to benefit by taking both courses but each program (detailed below) stands on its own.
Making News for Healthy Communities
This course focuses on a healthy body, mind, and community through the theme of the future of food. Students will make videos and short films with UM Professor of Communications Sanjeev Chatterjee and his students, as well as our own videographer Luis Grande, and learn about nutrition and balanced diets, organic foods, local Florida products vs. imported foods, food waste, the impact of cultural differences in the production and consumption of food, and models of farms and restaurants. Students are taught valuable life skills to help them form healthy relationships with others, plan budgets, manage their time, and more. All of our learning takes place in a creative environment using varied learning styles. Students learn to use technology to make videos and interview others. On Fridays, they join Cycles of Nature students in taking field trips to restaurants, farms, and other locations as they explore the different neighborhoods of Miami to understand culture and lifestyle.
Cycles of Nature
Students gain knowledge about the earth and the cycles of nature to understand the future of food and also express themselves with art projects. They will start a garden and learn about different types of soils, seeds, pests, and butterflies and the roles of oxygen and water. The impact of weather, seasons, and natural disasters such as flooding and droughts on food production both in Miami and around the world is examined. Students have fun planting seeds, get creative making art, and use technology to aid learning. Additionally students are taught life skills such as good organization, self-care, and good hygiene to prepare them for the future. Based at the Frost Museum of Science, they will also work in our garden at Coral Gables Congregational Church and join Making News for Healthy Communities students in Friday field trips to City of Miami locations, restaurants, and more as we also explore the different neighborhoods of Miami to understand diverse lifestyles and culture.
Our students are mid to high functioning young adults with intellectual disabilities between the ages of 18 and 30. Largely overlooked after leaving the school system, all too many sit at home watching TV and fearful of the outside world. We believe their right to continuing education needs attention in South Florida and that our programs allow this population to flourish through a shared community of learning. They grow personally and intellectually over the weeks of the program toward the goal of becoming valued and contributing members of society. Some of our students have gone on to employment and other learning opportunities while others return to continue new programs with us. We also have a lot of fun in the process!