- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 24, 2002

The world's population depends on an earth rich in nutrients to grow a sustainable food source. In the late 1930s, J.I. Rodale understood this obvious concept, and in rural Pennsylvania created an experimental farm to hone his organic methods for growing food. His theory that soil restoration would lead to healthier people became the basis for the Rodale Institute.
This organization continues its groundbreaking research and works to study and prove the connection between soil health and human health. A Web site developed by the institute is spreading the word to the next generation of consumers, who can learn about the importance of preserving their planet's resources.

Kids Re-generationResource Network
Site address: www.kidsregen.org
Creator: The Rodale Institute, a nonprofit organization located in Kutztown, Pa., works with people worldwide to achieve a regenerative food system that renews environmental and human health.
Creator quotable: "Children must learn at a very young age that the powerful connections between soil and food directly affect their personal health and the health of the planet," says Florence Rodale, founder of kidsregen.org for the Rodale Institute.
"Kids have great power: the power to change the future. Kidsregen.org's goal is to educate them, inspire them, empower them, listen to them, share their success stories with the world and provide them with a voice to affect their future positively."
Word from the Webwise: With the battle cry, "Healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people," the Kids Re-generation Resource Network attempts to capture the interest of children 7 to 13 years old with brightly designed pages, numerous chunks of knowledge, games and plenty of off-line activities.
This Webzine provides a monthly compendium of fun, all based on the concepts of empowering youngsters to take control of their environment, which will lead to a healthy lifestyle.
Primary sections "In this Issue," "Success Stories," "Games & Discoveries," "Brain Food," "Exhibits," "Action Steps" and "Archives" come loaded with information based on nature and gardening's relationship to food and health.
The basic goals of the site can be found quickly in "Action Steps," which incorporates the clickable maze "Take Your Health Into Your Own Hands: 10 Steps to a Healthier You and a Healthier Planet." Here, visitors not only find tips on the importance of eliminating junk food from their diet or making sure to use compost and recycled trash to regenerate healthy soil, but also get a dose of fast facts, quizzes, detailed illustrations and helpful activities to use in everyday life.
Or begin with "In This Issue" to find a wide range of interesting items, including reports of students in Senegal, Africa, setting up planting beds; recipes for making homemade potato chips; a celebrity match-up game highlighting some well-drawn cartoon characters that pepper the site; and "Natural Moves With Natalie."
Natalie, whose page also has a link on the opening screen, gives visitors fun ways to exercise. In February, she looked at how good posture can energize the body (slumping can lead to poorly inflated lungs); gave tips on how to do a computer-break stretch; and even revisited advice from January.
Ease of use: The site has been designed with a maximum of quick-loading visuals and a minimum of bells and whistles for easy accessibility worldwide. Visitors will benefit by having the latest Flash plug-in as well as Adobe Acrobat configured for the printable activities.
Don't miss: The Science Corner, found under "Games & Discoveries," introduces the world's smallest reporters, Mike Crobe and Amy Ba, through a silly animated presentation as they scour the world for reports of the tiniest organisms performing mighty feats. Visitors will learn that a single jalapeno pepper seed can heat up a whole pot of chili and that most stomach ulcers are caused by tiny bacteria, Helicobacter pylori.
The pair also highlight a young scientist each month. The current Whiz Kid, 14-year old Stephen L., comes from Bethlehem Catholic High School in Bethlehem, Pa. He has been conducting experiments to determine whether electrical current sent through bean plants can make them grow faster and produce a larger harvest.
Family activity: The site presents plenty of projects that can only be accomplished away from the computer. Some of my favorites, mainly confined to "Games & Discoveries," include creating paper insects, carving out a potato kazoo and building a Haitian holiday tree. The site's developers wisely display an icon at the top of project pages when an activity needs adult supervision.
Cyber-sitter synopsis: The very tidy site should entice visitors to return every month to find a host of new educational opportunities. In future issues, expect to see an online curriculum in the "Brain Food" section, more personal stories from children and an advisory board developed to get visitors' feedback, which will be incorporated into the site.
Overall grade: B+
Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated.


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