Today, we are happy to spotlight parent leader Lilliana Hernandez, whose efforts as part of Parents United for Healthy Schools have resulted in positive changes for school wellness at her children's school and schools across Chicago. Congratulations to Lilliana and all the parent leaders who are making change for kids' health!
by Lanette Garcia
How did you get involved with Parents United for Healthy Schools?
I got involved with Parents United for Healthy Schools when Jovita invited me to a nutrition class. I then realized that it was very important to change our eating habits and above all, support our schools because our children’s schools, specifically their lunches, are not the best, although that has changed a lot. This is also true for us. At home, we should lead by example and make changes for ourselves, so that we can provide our children well-prepared meals that are also nutritionally balanced. Portion sizes are also important. I have enjoyed it a lot because I have learned many things for my home and school.
Why are healthy practices and nutrition education important?
Because our health depends on it -- above all, the health of our children and students. We should include these [healthy practices] as part of our daily routine and nourish ourselves each and every day. At school, the mothers in our community also help out a lot.
What is one thing you have personally changed in your lifestyle?
In my lifestyle and at home, I have changed my use of sugar and flour -- little by little, because it is difficult to stop suddenly. At school, I have helped out the mothers. We have our wellness team and once a week, we have healthy cooking workshops with the mothers, where we change our junk food recipes into something healthier.
Above all, with my children, I have also changed their eating habits. My husband has also changed his eating habits and completely went from negative to positive.
Since putting healthy practice and lessons in place at home, what changes have you seen in your home? In your school community?
There have been many changes at home. My children enjoy, for example, that when we are at home, we eat healthier food. When we go out, it is no longer difficult to give them homemade food or whatever I buy. Before, it was very difficult. “Oh! I don’t want to eat this.” They always wanted junk food. At home, it is much easier to say, “There is this and that.”
I have also changed. Before, I couldn’t live without soda, but I had to realize the damage that I was doing to my body. Little by little I have taught them. I have to be conscious, first myself, and then I can give that to my children.
How do parents contribute to healthy school environments?
Parents contribute a lot in healthy schools [by] bringing in wellness teams, leading discussions with other parents, and making healthy food. Parents also bring in help. We got the University of Illinois to being educational workshops on health for parents, children and the community, and to make us aware of the reality of what we experience. . . so that they can motivate us, and above all, promote our health. Health is very important.
Thanks to Lilliana for sharing this insight! Stay posted for more spotlights on parent leaders and updates on Parents United for Healthy Schools.