Children First: Young Chefs Academy encourages kids to make healthy choices

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More and more kids are eating junk food! According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on any given day, more than 34 percent of children and teens ages two to ninet

Fourth graders from Manchester Gate Elementary School are lining up to cook their own meals.

This field trip involves prepping their own food at the Young Chefs Academy in Fresno.

"I think it's a good experience now and I'm gonna try to do it at home," said 4th grader, Zevaeh Gonerway.

RELATED: Children First: Healthy Choices

They're creating a vegetarian pizza.

Chef Shayna Telesmanic operates the academy and has written the book Food For You.

She says when kids are engaged in prepping their own food, they're more willing to eat nutritious meals.

"So with the kiddos, they're using fresh fruits and vegetables in a way that is exploratory and exciting rather than eat your broccoli because I said so," Chef Shayna said.

This hands-on experience gives children like Ryan a bit of control in the kitchen.

"I have a lot more ownership, I don't have to I'm happy I don't have to share it with my sister, my dad, I don't have to share it really," said 4th grader, Ryan Trevino.

Ryan loves pizza, but it's his first time making a veggie pie with mushrooms and bell peppers.

"I learned you use a lot more cheese in pizza than you think," he said.

Extra helpings and junk food can add up if you're not careful. According to the California Department of Education, 44 percent of 7th graders in Fresno County are overweight or obese.

Endocrinologists at Valley Children's Healthcare, our Children First sponsor are seeing younger children diagnosed with type two diabetes.

"Other things that actually go along with type 2 diabetes that we are also are seeing are high blood pressure, liver problems such as fatty liver, sleep apnea," said Dr. Sarah Brickey, a Pediatric Endocrinologist.

Chef Shayna says parents can get children engaged in the kitchen at home.

"Even if it's something as easy as creating a salad, a three-year-old cut can shred lettuce with their fingers, or we have safety knives we let them cut vegetables with as well," Chef Shayna said.

At the end of class, kids get to eat their own creations, made with healthy ingredients and a little love.
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