ECELC Inspires Healthy Changes
While obesity is not a significant problem with most of the children at Taylor County Head Start in Perry and Steinhatchee, Florida, a few children are already struggling with weight issues and two children have diabetes. After participating in the National Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative (ECELC), Teresa Hunter, Health Services Coordinator, and Sheila Lynn, Family Advocate, hope to inspire parents and staff to get healthier for the sake of the preschoolers in their care. “We hope by working with staff, parents and the children, they will care more about the importance of nutrition and physical activity,” Hunter said.
Plans are in place to step up health activities for the children. The preschoolers will be participating in a monthly nutrition lesson, using A Dozen Ways to Be Healthy, a curriculum written by staff at the Florida Department of Health. Play activities will be incorporated into the daily curriculum using Dr. Craft’s “Active Play!” resource. All of the teachers will be trained to incorporate these activities into their classrooms.
Outreach to parents will increase as well. Whenever the monthly nutrition lesson is held, a letter will be sent home so that parents will learn what their children are learning. They will also receive a monthly calendar of daily activities. These activities will be incorporated into the classroom, and then the children can repeat them at home with their parents.
“One of the main things we learned from the Learning Collaborative is that being healthy can be fun,” said Lynn. “We hope to get parents and staff engaged so that they can see it is fun too.”