Originally published on March 4, 2017
Will a new girl children’s character make ag & nutrition cool again? Meet Little WANDA. In an urban community of Anacostia women and girls came together in celebration of Women’s History Month and National Nutrition Month in support of a new children’s character that has emerged as a new shero for agriculture and nutrition. With the rise of diabetes and access to quality foods, we need a champion to be an ambassador for healthier communities!
The World Health Organization estimates 42 million people of African descent will have diabetes by 2030 like Little WANDA’s Nana. Meet Little WANDA who is the “Smokey the Bear” for Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture. Her time is now with the United Nations declaring a Decade of Action on Nutrition. We need to inspire our children to embrace their heritage from farm to fufu!
WHO IS LITTLE WANDA?
Little WANDA is every caring and curious girl wanting to help her family especially her beloved grandma who has diabetes. So she is on the hunt for the cure with the help of her Great Nana’s magic apron as she travels to Nigeria in search of a female farmer who shares with her how to prepare foods to heal her family.
Thank you to the 100+ crowdfund backer and community supporters who believed in Little WANDA!
WHY WE NEED AFRICAN CHILDREN CHARACTERS LIKE LITTLE WANDA?
For too long cartoons and children’s characters have not shed a positive light about Africa and her people including the Diaspora. Think: Tintin. Just this week a Twitter chat about children stories of Africa took place.
WHERE IS LITTLE WANDA?
She lives in the Diaspora (America) but was made in Nigeria, the “Where’s WANDA?” character is an engaging role model for girls to aspire to become food sheroes in their community. The “Where’s WANDA? “ is a bilingual book (English and an African language) series tackling a food and health issue in the community. Little WANDA goes in search to solve her Nana’s diabetes with the help of Big WANDA and men guide her. She travels to different African countries with her magic apron. For Little WANDA food is a powerful tool to express identity, value and build a culture of healing that lies within the community.
LITTLE WANDA IS LEADING A MOVEMENT OF HEALTHY EATERS, READERS AND LEADERS.
Based in Washington, DC and in Abuja, Nigeria, Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture (WANDA) is on a mission to develop next generation of women and girls as leaders from farm to fork in Africa and the Diaspora. WANDA is developing a pipeline and platform for women and girls of African descent to transform their personal health, their communities, and food systems.
WHY I CREATED LITTLE WANDA?
Trailblazing the movement, I created a character Little WANDA who is the “Doc McStuffins” of nutrition meets “Dora the Explorer” of the African diaspora to inspire girls to become food sheroes and global citizens with support of Big WANDAs to learn how to heal and build their community through food and nutrition. Through WANDA we inspire them to carry the torch as to healthy food champions for their community like First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Aisha Buhari. We focus on women and girls as key drivers in transforming the food system through education, advocacy and innovation. To inspire our girls we crowdfunded and recently launched a girl empowerment book series entitled “Where’s WANDA?” at the U.S. Library of Congress during African Heritage Month.
LITTLE WANDA, WE HAVE A FOOD CHALLENGE FROM AMERICA TO AFRICA!
From Anacostia to Accra, communities of African descent are experiencing a high rate of diet-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease along with a low supply of black nutritionists, farmers and healthy food entrepreneurs. Studies show our children’s generation is supposed to die before us due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like obesity. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, people of African descent make up 2.6% (3600) of Registered Dietitians-Nutritionists.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture 2012 Agricultural Census reported only 6100 Black female farmers in America. There are a lack of role models, mentorship, leadership and advocacy of women food leaders who reflect the black girls who need food sheroes and programs that reflect their lives. Studies focus on grocery stores and farmers markets as the food justice solution; but we need programs like WANDA to share, reach and teach women and girls of African descent locally and globally. Therefore we need to create a new generation of food sheroes to improve the wellbeing of our communities.
If you missed the event and want Little WANDA to come to your group, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Books are available for sale at Nubian Hueman and Sankofa Bookstores in Washington, DC supporting the WANDA, which is now a registered nonprofit to support women and girl empowerment in food, agriculture and nutrition.