New Winter Park Health Foundation Grant Will Help Build Healthy Habits at an Early Age

Hoping to cultivate healthy habits among children even before they reach elementary school, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF), through its Children & Youth Work Group, approved a $50,000 grant to Nemours to launch the Nemours Child Care Obesity Prevention Initiative in Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park child care settings.

The program will be developed in partnership with child care providers in the three communities with a special focus on those serving children who go on to attend schools in the Winter Park Consortium schools – WPHF partners in the Coordinated Youth Initiative (CYI).

“This is a natural extension of the health enhancing work we already do in public schools through the CYI and its efforts including Healthy School Teams,” explained Debbie Watson, WPHF Vice President. “Research shows the earlier you can instill healthy habits in children, the better; so it makes sense to reach out to children and their families through child care centers.”

“This is wonderful—it’s what we’ve always wanted,” said pediatrician Dr. Brenda Holson, a work group member and WPHF Trustee, as the program was approved.

Dr. Lloyd Werk, MD, MPH and Kelly Rogers, MPH will oversee the grant for Nemours. In addition, Nemours is in the process of hiring a part-time program and policy analyst to assist in the recruitment of child care sites for the program in partnership with the Early Learning Coalition of Orange County. Other duties will include training volunteer community educators, working with volunteers to train early childhood professionals, facilitating family engagement workshops with volunteers and providing technical assistance to programs.

Nemours plans to work with higher education institutions in the community, as well as the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), to engage volunteers.

In addition to recruiting 10 to 15 new child care sites, the program will involve training 50 to 75 staff members and volunteers.

Nemours also will provide technical assistance to seven sites that have already received training in the program.

The five goals of the program are to get kids moving, reduce screen time, make nutrition fun, offer healthier beverages, and support infant feeding choices. In keeping with other WPHF efforts focused on “making the healthy choice the easy choice,” an additional objective of the partnership with Nemours is to promote the establishment of wellness policies within child care centers.

Child care center directors and staff will be trained on the Nemours 5-2-1-Almost None formula for a healthy lifestyle and use of the Healthy Habits for Life Child Care Resource Kit created in partnership with Sesame Street. It teaches children about eating right and staying physically active. Nemours will supply curriculum and wellness policy materials for use by child care professionals as well as educational resources for children and their families.

Nemours also is working with First Lady Michele Obama on Let’s Move! Child Care, a nationwide call-to-action designed to empower child care providers to make positive health changes in children, early on, that could last a lifetime.

The WPHF grant and partnership with Nemours will empower and enable child care providers serving Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park to step up and become an important part of this movement.