The staff of Inuujaq School arrived at the school very early on the morning of Friday, March 11. It was the last day of Drop the Pop Week and we were holding a community breakfast. There were lots of food & beverages to prepare, and the gym needed to be set up to welcome all the students, elders, and community members. The Home Ec Room was bustling with activity: teachers were cutting up fruits, cheese, and preparing grilled cheese sandwiches. I think we used most of the bowls and plastic containers to carry all the food to the gym.
The gym was also a hive of activity. The teachers moved tables, chairs, and a portable speaker to predetermined positions. When the tables were set up, we brought out all the food, healthy beverages, and paper plates. To drink, we would be serving juice boxes, tea, coffee, and water. We then divided up the food on paper plates. This would make distribution much easier.
Before the morning bell rang, to signal the start of the day, the teachers brought down the Drop the Pop posters their students had made during the week. The posters, written in English & Inuktitut, were taped all around the gym. I took pictures of all the highly descriptive posters with my camera. The posters all had the same message - lower pop consumption/give up pop - but their methods of communicating the message were different.
Some posters had pop cans with slashes across them while others showed the amount of sugar in a variety of beverages.
Everyone made their way down to the gym at 9:15am and the breakfast began at 9:30 with an elder saying an opening prayer. The teachers then carefully distributed the nutritious food and beverages to everyone present.
|Principal Salam announcing the winners.|
The judging of the posters began after everyone was finished eating. Several community members were chosen from the audience to walk around and submit their picks for the best looking posters. The school administration collected the submissions and then announced the winners to the audience. The poster submissions were divided into three groups: K-4, 5-9, and high school. (The posters from the first two groups were made by the classes and the high school posters were submitted by individual students).
The winners from all three groups received gift certificates from the Co-op. The winning classes were free to spend the money at the teacher's discretion. I think both classes chose to have a healthy lunch party the following week. I'm not sure what the high school winner chose to do with her winnings.
The Grade 9 class made a small booth out of (empty) pop cans and two cardboard boxes. The booth resembled a very tiny jail cell and on it were the words, "Pop is a Prison." The booth was placed on the side near the front of the gym and children lined up to have their photographs taken. Children were encouraged not to smile, (because pop is a prison), but some couldn't help it. Several teachers even posed for pictures.
In the end, Drop the Pop Week was a success in that we got the message out that consuming large quantities of sugary drinks is bad for your health and teeth. However, whether the awareness campaign actually reduced consumption of soft drinks is up in the air. The final decision/commitment rests with the individual. My "cold turkey" no-pop-for-a-week commitment was a success, although I'll admit the temptation to sneak a sip was ever present.
End of Drop The Pop Festivities Mini-Series.