Learning to Be Healthy
It’s sad, but true: National statistics show that childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. And more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, normally thought to be an adult disease.
Grant Helps Kids and Families
These facts are just one reason The Children’s Center, a service of Parrish Medical Center, worked so hard to get a $100,000 grant last May from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) Foundation. The center works with young children every day and knows how important it is to start them early on the right path to health.
The two-year grant has enabled the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) Early Childhood program to be implemented throughout Brevard County. CATCH Early Childhood directly addresses the childhood obesity epidemic.
In fact, preschool teachers across the county are being trained to implement CATCH Early Childhood, which is designed to nurture a love of physical activity, provide an introduction to classroom-based gardening and nutrition, and encourage healthy eating in children ages 3–5.
Stretch, Jump, Spin and Think
One fun way the kids are learning new things about nutrition and exercise is through the Wellness and Mindful Living for Preschoolers program developed by licensed clinical social worker Helen Duane. Community professionals donate their time, talents and expertise at the preschool level on topics including healthy nutrition, sleep, exercise and mindfulness activities that can help children become more aware of the world around them.
In recent months, the children have learned that exercise is fun by participating in relay races with Parrish Health & Fitness specialist Lucas Jordan. Sharon Tolson, Ph.D., with Brevard Public Schools, taught the children Brain Gym, an activity that stimulates both sides of the brain, which enhances learning. They’ve also learned from physiatrist Patrick Sonser, M.D., how to stretch correctly before they do any exercise.
The children are learning that being active is a way of life, and also fun.
And, of course, the preschoolers share what they’ve learned with their families, so the wellness circle expands and continues to grow with the child.
By Kathy Simonsen, BCBSF Grant Coordinator
Learn more about programs and services at The Children’s Center. Go to parrishchildrenscenter.com.
Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie
Here’s an easy, healthy morning shake your whole family will enjoy.
What You’ll Need
1 c. soymilk
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 banana, broken into chunks
14 frozen strawberries
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Yield: 2 servings.