African-American Community Promotes Healthy Start in Child Care and School Programs

Guest blogger is Shannon Rudisill, Director for ACF's Office of Child Care.

Photo of an African American family riding bikes on a sunny day.ACF’s early childhood programs are committed to encouraging the development of healthy habits in young children but we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re so pleased by what the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) is doing to promote good health for children and families.

With support from the Wal-Mart Foundation, NBCDI has developed a nutrition and physical education project that is implemented in partnership with child care centers, after school programs, schools and community-based organizations. The project incorporates physical, nutrition and environmental education to improve health at both the individual and community levels, and gives children a better understanding of how food is related to feeling healthy and being active. There are pilot programs in Philadelphia, Greensboro and Milwaukee. In the first year, the program reached more than 7,400 children and has been so successful that it is expanding to Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta.

According to parents and teachers, the program is working. Teachers report that children are interested and that they have been choosing healthier snacks. Parents report that family engagement activities have motivated them to be healthier too. From learning to plant vegetables to bringing home recipes for healthy snacks, many children impacted by the program are more involved in making healthy choices than ever before.

Some of the NBCDI Affiliates are building bridges with the Let’s Move! program, and many of the partner child care programs, including after school programs, serve children and families eligible for subsidies through the Child Care and Development Fund. As the Office of Child Care continues to work toward healthy beginnings for all children, we look forward to keeping NBCDI on our team.

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