Bellingham Students “GetReal” About Healthful Eating
Mar 29, 2018 06:00AM
● By Marjorie Turner Hollman
Shown above are Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney (back); front L-R: Health and Wellness Instructor Stefanie Rothschild, third graders Adam Doran, Aleck Chelman, Eric Johnston, Skylar Youkilis, Catherine Gauntlett, and Nicole Rogers, and 2nd grade teacher Kara Winslow.
Bellingham shone brightly at the GetReal Awards Ceremony, providing both opening and closing entertainment for the standing-room-only crowd that attended the event, which took place March 19th at the Unlikely Story bookstore in Plainville, co-owned by Diary of a Wimpy Kid book author Jeff Kinney and his wife, Julie. Donna Morin and Julie Kinney are co-founders of the GetReal organization, a local effort to get kids to understand the benefits of eating real food, as opposed to processed, packaged food, which is an increasing amount of many children’s diets. This was the second year the organization has sponsored a poster contest for local third- and fourth-grade students, to challenge schoolchildren to show why healthful eating is “good for you.”
The Wellness Wizards at Bellingham Memorial School meet every other week after school under the direction of middle school teachers Amanda Ghostlaw and Tracy Dorcil. They opened the awards ceremony with a series of skits that described different foods that are healthful and suggested which body part each food was especially beneficial for.
State representative Shawn Dooley appeared briefly at the beginning of the program to commend the GetReal organization for its hard work and presented a letter of commendation from the statehouse to co-founders, Kinney and Morin. Morin warmed up the crowd with a brief story of how she used to eat lots of packaged, sugary foods and never felt very energetic or strong. But once she became a mother she started being more concerned about how she fed her child and began eating foods that were better for her child and for herself—and began becoming healthier.
A series of speakers spoke very briefly at the tightly programmed event. Robert Capron, who co-starred in the earliest Wimpy Kids movies, spoke about his own struggles with food and learning to eat more healthfully. Todd Standstrom, a local organic farmer, talked about getting connected with where real food really comes from. Ed Hurley, president of the Hockomock YMCA, which partners with the GetReal organization, offered closing remarks, along with Julie Kinney.
Each area town that participated in the poster contest had one winner, who received a large bag full of autographed Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Jeff Kinney personally handed each winner his or her books and paused to provide a chance for proud parents to snap photos. Bellingham submitted 98 different posters, and Stall Brook 3rd-grade winner Julia Simon proudly accepted her bag of books with a great smile. The winner of the entire contest was Cameron Arthur of Hopedale. In the coming months Hopedale schools will receive a visit from Jeff Kinney.
The Fruity Fresh Gang from Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham stole the show with their closing program. Health and Wellness teacher Stefanie Rothschild, who wrote all the lyrics of the songs that the children presented, and 2nd-grade teacher Kara Winslow worked with the six 3rd-grade students (Aleck Chelman, Skylar Youkilis, Nicole Rogers, Adam Doran, Eric Johnston, and Catherine Gauntlett) for the past six weeks after school, helping them get both the lyrics and the dance moves down pat. These children were chosen because of distinguishing themselves as positive role models who had demonstrated leadership skills.
Entering the room decked out in their homemade costumes as various fruits or vegetables, the students also wore flashing sunglasses that added a wonderful sense of glitz to the kids’ dance moves. They strode to the front of the standing-room-only crowd, wearing homemade costumes portraying themselves as oversized fruits or vegetables. Each child in turn stepped forward to take the lead as they highlighted the fruit or vegetable they were portraying. Bright purple grapes, refreshing watermelon, yummy peas, tasty carrots, and saucy bananas have never looked (or sounded) so enticing. For more information about the GetReal organization, visit to their website to sign up for future events: https://www.getrealforhealth.com.