For more than a decade, Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) has been dedicated to helping local elementary, middle and high school students become as healthy and academically productive as possible through a collection of school-based health and wellness programs that are part of its Coordinated Youth Initiative (CYI).
Thanks to a partnership with Nemours Children’s Hospital, a new program—the Nemours Child Care Prevention Initiative—will help children acquire healthy habits before they even reach kindergarten.
The program, made possible by a $50,000 WPHF grant to Nemours, is being launched in 14 Eatonville, Maitland and Winter Park child care settings with children who go on to attend Winter Park Consortium schools – WPHF partners in the 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.”
“The best way to help children make healthy choices in later life is to practice them early,” said Dr. Lloyd Werk, Nemours, Director of Florida Prevention Initiative
Other child care centers in Central Florida already have received training, and the hope is that it will spread to others and saturate the area. “Our goal is to help grow a healthier generation,” said Dr. Werk.
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 are being 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.
Volunteers also are being trained so they can go into the child care centers to help teach classes and activities and to help staff establish healthful policies.
Training will take place over the next couple months.
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.
For more information about the initiative, go to http://healthykidshealthyfuture.org