The CDC states that 18% children aged 6-11 are obese, and estimates predict
that 80% of children who are obese at age ten will remain obese into adulthood.
At home, television advertising can have a detrimental influence on a
child’s eating habits. However, we can counter that effect by providing
educational programs that educate and inspire children to adopt healthier
habits. Early childhood education around nutrition in school can have
a major positive impact on children’s health in the long term. By
incorporating a program that has a "hands on" component coupled
with education about nutrition, changes can happen. Hands-on inspiration
can establish a lifelong commitment to healthy habits.
With that in mind theHoag Hospital Foundationand Hoag'sMary &
Dick Allen Diabetes Center provided funds and support for a school garden
at Rea Elementary School in Costa Mesa. Hoag provided soil, seeds and
equipment to revitalize the school’s worn down garden. Children
participated from beginning to end, from placing soil to digging holes
and planting seeds to harvesting. Students were able to experience how
food is grown and were encouraged to keep a journal about the process.
As the garden began to flourish, students were exposed to new healthy
food alternatives and many requested seconds during sampling sessions.
Yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, snap peas, lemons, cucumbers and cilantro
are currently thriving at the Rea Elementary School garden.
"The purpose of the project was to give students a hand-on experience
while educating them about the importance of healthy nutrition, encouraging
students to try new foods, and reinforcing the benefits of making healthy
choices," saidDaniel Nadeau, MD, program director at the Mary &
Dick Allen Diabetes Center and Kris V. Iyer Endowed Chair in Diabetes Care.
"The collaboration with Hoag gave the students of Rea Elementary
an interactive opportunity to learn about healthy eating from the ground.
Participation in the vegetable garden project gave the students an opportunity
to learn and develop a sense of work ethic, team work and commitment.
They experienced a sense of student engagement, connectedness with the
school, pride and personal satisfaction for their work. They were also
very interested and eager to bring the freshly harvested vegetables home
to their families to eat," said Laura Garcia-Chandler, RN, MSN, CPNP
School Nurse at Rea Elementary School.
At the end of the project, Dr. Nadeau met with Mrs. Cowan’s kindergarten
class to give students a hands-on education experience about the importance
of healthy nutrition. Hoag also sponsored awards and prizes for best garden
journal and artwork, best garden club attendance and most enthusiastic.
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