West Virginia University Logo

Healthy Children Project

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pleasants County kids – 2-5-year-olds – will soon have the opportunity to benefit from the “Healthy Children Project.”

Dianna Lewis, Pleasants County Extension agent, presented the program to members of the Pleasants County Board of Education March 31.

She said three counties in West Virginia were selected by the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based on adult obesity rates in 2012.

With the help of West Virginia University Extension Service, the program is offered to youngsters in Pleasants, Barbour and Gilmer counties.

The project aims to increase healthy eating and physical activity behaviors of families with young children.

“Poor health habits among children may lead to health problems in adulthood,” Lewis explained.

“Better eating habits need to start when they are young and that’s why we’re targeting 2-5-year-olds.”

In addition to the pre-kindergarten classes in Pleasants County, the program will be utilized at local child care facilities including Jack & Jill Preschool and Little Helping Hands.

Lewis said educators in the childcare facilities were given surveys some time ago that provided insight of the needs for the program.

Grants will provide funds for the program that extends to October 2017. The funds will provide healthy snacks to the children and allow for teachers and daycare centers to purchase physical education equipment.

Participating classrooms may also get involved in a farm to school project that will provides fresh, local produce, learning activities, food tastings and school gardens, Lewis added.

Parents get involved and will be invited to community Family Fun events four times a year. The events feature family meals, prizes and hands-on learning, targeting at-home practices parents can do. Parents learn easy tips for healthy family meals, being active together and cooking.

Lewis asked board members to keep the Healthy Children Project in mind for next year in the event funding is needed to continue after grants are expended.

Agencies also involved in the program are the West Virginia Prevention Research Center and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Story written by: Randa Gregg
The St. Mary's Oracle