Sprouting Healthy Kids
Rachel Pukall
rpuka198@uwsp.edu

childcare-2-color-sfeld.jpgThe Helen R. Godfrey University Child Learning and Care Center has received $1,500 as part of a $100,000 grant to develop garden beds with fencing in order to encourage the use and production of local food for children.

The program and grant, called Sprouting Healthy Kids, was created through the Security Health Plan and targets children of all ages. The program focuses on health-related concerns of child obesity. The child care center has children who vary from 6 weeks to 4 years old who will be involved in the entire process, from planting seeds to harvesting.

“The grant is for teaching kids healthy lifestyles, and that’s something we try to teach the kids here. We try to teach families too, so we’re hoping families can be a part of this, and it will become something bigger. It won’t just be a garden. It will be children learning to grow gardens so they can take that skill and do it at home,” said Rachel Hansard, a teacher at the child care center.

In the summer, the child care center also cares for grade school children who will be a big help in the gardening process. 

“When children see that what they’re doing makes a difference they get a feeling of accomplishment,” Hansard said.

The children will be learning through hands-on experiences.

“It’s going be a whole process so they can see it from start to end. They’re going be harvesting it and we’re going be cooking stuff, so they’ll get to see healthy meals that we’ll be using as snacks. There are all different kinds of things you can do to teach healthy eating,” Hansard said.

The child care center is always doing projects with the kids and keeping them entertained. Two years ago, they raised money for the Humane Society by participating in bake sales so that they could donate goods for the animals.

“The gardening is our main focus right now, but there’s always something going on,” Hansard said

The center is hoping that the garden will be a start for a larger program.

“Right now, we’re starting small. We’ll just have three garden beds, but we’re hoping to grow and get more space because we just have our little playground that we can grow on. Hopefully, we can get more space nearby so we can grow more and maybe be a part of the Farmer’s Market or even have a little vegetable stand outside to bring in the community,” Hansard said.

Hansard loves her job and loves seeing the children get excited about learning.

“It’ll be fun to see how excited they get about the garden. If you can get kids excited about it now, that potential will only grow,” Hansard said.

The child care center is putting together a committee to make decisions about the garden. So far they have Hansard, another teacher and a parent, but they are also looking for a student who will be around the area this summer as well as anyone else who would like to volunteer and help out.