Florida A&M nutrition instructor and published poet Jennelle Robinson delivered a TedX presentation on the topic, “Using Media, Poetry, and Performance to Enhance Eating Behavior.” Robinson applies the arts to engage students in the classroom and online activities during her lessons. Her students have even produced a documentary, published on Youtube, about health and body image.
Robinson fell in love with different art forms through involvement in church and school. She also struggled with body image issues, eating issues, and an eating disorder at one point. This led to a transition into nutrition, however, her passion for performance never dwindled.
She fell in love with poetry and said, “I wrote a book of poetry.. it was a coping mechanism for me” at the period of her brother’s passing.
“I do believe that the performing arts, especially poetry can be used as a way to help people heal,” she stated. Robinson said that the media, especially social media shapes the minds of people concerning their bodies and what they should and should not eat.
“Propaganda facilitates positive and/or negative images,” she mentions in regards to how people view the body.
She cited studies that show how the arts help students perform better and said that STEAM education, basically incorporating the arts to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics compliments those disciplines.
Robinson encourages people to read and share reputable information and professionals with credentials. “There’s accountability there,” she said about referencing such sources. She encouraged people to share their own stories and acclaims the use of storytelling in enlisting support and sharing one’s journey and success.
“I’ve learned an easier way to look into nutrition. Poetry made it so relatable…it made me feel that these goals were more attainable” said Christine Regis, a junior Social Work major at FAMU.
“Most if not all chronic health issues we deal with have something to do with our eating behaviors” Robinson noted. She said if people were to control what they ate and make necessary changes it will reduce the risk of those diseases. “You can eat healthier to decrease your chance of diabetes or you can get diabetes and still have to eat healthily.”
The popular public speaking platform is hosted by MNZ Connect. It’s a group of young professionals from New Mount Zion AME Church connecting young professionals to God and each other according to their Instagram page. The TedX Talk was hosted at the J. Leander Byrd Community Center. “This TedX taught me how to first be an advocate for myself, pave a path for others and build a more sustainable community,” said attendee Brooklynn Gill.
Other topics included the importance of agriculture, trauma and family separation, and gun violence in America.