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AWESOME AUTUMN: Keeping Kids Busy And Healthy

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Getting kids on the right path can take an entire community. One group has been helping a Des Moines neighborhood for decades. The organization now keeps kids busy during school breaks, and even has a new name.

For three weeks in the fall, students from Moulton Elementary School attend Awesome Fall Days. 5th Grader Gerardo Sanelias says, "This is awesome fall break."

Kai Quach says, "This place just takes care of us...and we get to play."

Sariya Whitehead says, "It gives me something to do besides just being at home and being bored."

Sixty-five students from Moulton are enrolled in Awesome Fall Days. It takes place in a church basement. Program Director Janelle Mueller says, "Whenever they have break, we supply programming for the kids on after school program, and it's for kids in the morning ‘til 5:30, Monday through Friday."

Children and Family Urban Movement provides the programming. Grants and donations pay for it. The group changed its name this fall after being called Children and Family Urban Ministries for years.

Mueller says, "We're a community based organization, so movement is what we're trying to do: move kids on, move families forward, so it was a perfect fit."

Each break offers a new theme. And, this fall's session was Into The Blue and Green. Mueller says, "So the children are being taken out into what is supposed to be green grass, we've been to prairie experiences. And, the blue portion, we've been down to the marine biology department at Central Campus."

The students also visited a garden in their own backyard. They've been working in Moulton's garden during fall break. They even harvested kale during national kale day." Mueller says, "We had a kale and potato bake, so they're learning a lot about growing vegetables and eating their own vegetables out of the garden too."

The students also learn about healthy eating habits. All the food is donated and even simple meals, like ham and cheese, are prepared with nutrition in mind. Mueller says, "The population in this neighborhood, a high rate of diabetes, high rate of heart disease, like everywhere else, and so right now we've cut out bread, quite a bit of bread out, and we eat meat and cheese and we eat very healthy vegetables and fruit."

The kids seem to enjoy what they're eating. Whitehead says, "They're very good because they're healthy and they're good for you."

Good for their bodies and brains, as the students stay busy during break. CFUM also hosts programs during spring and summer breaks.

Children Family Urban Movement provides many other programs, including a Breakfast club that started in 1968. It helps kids start their days off right with a nutritious morning meal throughout the year.