Category: Early Childhood Health Promotion
When established early, healthy behaviors can set a foundation for a healthier future. Chan’s Scholar Toddlers (CST) child care center in Amite, Louisiana provides full and part-time care services for a range of ages. Through Well-Ahead Louisiana’s Let’s Be Healthy grant, they built a vegetable garden to help teach children about making healthy decisions.
As soon as CST learned they would be receiving the Let’s Be Healthy grant, they started teaching their children about how plants grow and explaining to them that they would take care of the plants, pick the vegetables and eat the vegetables. With funding from the grant, CST was able to purchase planters to make it easier for the children to dig in the soil and reach the plants so they could interact with the garden.
CST also started introducing and explaining what healthy meant and the importance of making healthy choices. They received access to age appropriate books and lessons to help teach children the basics about how plants grow and the differences between fruits and vegetables. They also taught about healthy habits like eating healthy foods and brushing their teeth.
Each day the children are able to water the plants in the vegetable garden and look for any growth. The children are very engaged with the garden and get excited to see the plants start sprouting. Once the vegetables are ready, the children get to pick the vegetables themselves. The vegetables are then incorporated into the children’s meals, which has encouraged healthy eating.
“It’s been a good way to get the children excited to eat more vegetables. This has sparked their curiosity and encouraged them to try it even if they don’t think they’ll like it,” says Chante Buchanan, director of CST. “They’re more focused on their plates when they’re being served since they helped grow their food.”
When the children recognize something from their garden on their plate, they get excited and are more likely to try the vegetables than before they had the garden. The staff at the child care center have already seen a difference in how engaged the students are around healthy behaviors.
Through the Let’s Be Healthy grant, child care centers can help nurture health eating habits by installing an edible garden, but this is just one of the ways Well-Ahead can help child care centers in promoting healthy behaviors. There are many ways you can take the lead—and Well-Ahead can help! Your child care center can model healthy behaviors, geaux tobacco-free, get kids active, champion oral health and provide staff training. Learn more!