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Extension Partner Receives Two-Year Grant to Design Healthy Eating Spaces

By Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate

Last week, Abi Asojo, Ph.D., professor of interior design at the University of Minnesota College of Design received word that her application for a two-year grant from Extension to redesign the dining hall space at a Saint Paul elementary school was approved.

Over the past year, University of Minnesota Extension’s Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) and the College of Design’s interior design program have been working in partnership with Bruce Vento Elementary School in the Saint Paul Public Schools district to create environments that foster student learning and well-being.

Labyrinth and "Zones of Regulation" wall paintings in Bruce Vento's calming room.
Read more about these features: The Calming Room Transformed

This grant provides funding to redesign Bruce Vento’s dining hall space to make it a more trauma-sensitive place for healthy eating. The acoustics of the current dining hall space create a loud eating environment, and the minimal amount of natural light contributes to an institutional feel. These characteristics trigger disruptive behavior, especially in students with behavioral challenges.

The project team members will explore practices for creating an environment that will support students’ learning and health, as well as creating a teaching kitchen space for Extension's nutrition educators to use with students and families.

“We are, of course, ecstatic that Extension is continuing to invest in the incredible partnership work happening at Bruce Vento,” said Sara Langworthy, Ph. D., a project team member and CYFC Extension educator. “We’re excited to get to work with our College of Design and Saint Paul Public Schools partners.”

To read about Dr. Asojo’s previous interior design work at Bruce Vento, see the College of Design March 2015 blog post Calm Space, Calm Bodies, Calm Minds. For more information about CYFC’s work with Bruce Vento, visit the project website: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners.
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