Did you know that today nearly one in three children is overweight or obese? In fact, in the past 30 years, obesity has more than doubled in children. This is upsetting because obesity puts children at a higher risk for heart disease or stroke.
As a way to combat the obesity epidemic by teaching children healthy eating habits and to teach children sustainable practices, schools have been implementing their own school gardens. Right behind them is the support of the American Heart Association.
The American Heart Association has started the Teaching Gardens program in order to help schools teach children what it means to be healthy. Their goal is to “dramatically change the way America thinks about and consumes food.”
The Teaching Gardens program provides schools with the tools to develop their own school garden and garden education program. The American Heart Association provides garden beds, organic soil, and seeds and plants. They also help integrate the schools garden into the school curriculum by putting on cooking demonstrations and providing garden manuals, lesson plans, and other activities. These lessons are garden-themed and they teach children math, science, and proper nutrition.
In an article about the benefits of schools gardens, educators from Moss Haven talked about their own school garden that was a part of the American Heart Association’s Teaching gardens program. One of the teachers discussed the ways she incorporates the garden into children’s education. For example, at the time she was using the garden to teach kids about the five senses; the kids should be smelling, touching, and even tasting some of the foods grown from the garden.
School gardens have also been seen as a way to get children to try vegetables that they are often reluctant to try at the dinner table or in the lunchroom. Judith Collier-Reid, national consultant for the American Heart Association’s Teaching Gardens program in Dallas, said that children are more interested in trying and eating vegetables when they have the opportunity to grow them themselves.
Not only a way to teach kids about proper nutrition, school gardens also teach children about environmental responsibility. Working with the garden can teach children about teamwork and leadership.
With all the benefits that school gardens have to offer, it will not be suprising to see more and more schools starting their own gardens. With the help of donations and support, hopefully one day all schools will have a garden. What a wonderful sight that would be.
Feature Image: Victor Bayon via Flickr