Growing Healthy Children with School Gardens

Growing Healthy Children with School Gardens

“Please don’t throw rocks,” Master Gardener Pamela Van Hoozer called out as she walked with Mariposa Academy students to the school garden.

“I didn’t mean to Miss Pam,” a young boy said. “My shoe is open at the top. It catches rocks when I walk. See?”

He points to his sock-covered, wiggling toes as they peep through his sneaker.

Once a donor gave a pair of shoes to each child at Mariposa. But those shoes are long worn out. Now the children are going into winter wearing shoes with holes, their toes wet and cold.

Pamela felt bad. If she had known the holes in this child’s shoes were the cause of the scattering rocks, she would not have said anything.

In the garden, thoughts of holey shoes can be forgotten as kids dig their hands into the dirt. In the garden, students play and learn while they grow and eat fresh produce.

The garden is funded by a grant called Grow Yourself Healthy.

Grow Yourself Healthy is conducted with kindergarten through fifth grade students at Mariposa Academy and Libby Booth elementary schools in Washoe County. The program teaches an integrated nutrition and horticulture curriculum linked to education standards.

Organizers of the program hope to instill lifelong healthful eating and increased physical activity habits to reduce obesity and prevent chronic disease.

These healthy habits, while good for everyone, are especially important for children at Libby Booth and Mariposa. This is because they tend to have increased risks of obesity and chronic disease due to their ethnicity and low-income status.

Without Grow Yourself Healthy, children lacking proper shoes would also lack the tools to fight against risk factors they do not even know they have.

All they seem to know as they dig is that gardening is fun.

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