The Key 2 a Healthy Start is a quality improvement project in Early Care and Education (ECE) to prevent childhood obesity through policy, systems, and environmental changes. This intervention consists of developing a collaborative network, workshop training using an evidence-based obesity prevention quality improvement tool, and support to improve the nutrition and physical activity environments of young children. Click here to learn more.
Farm to Childcare
Farm to Childcare is a program that aims to make connections between local farmers for sustainable produce and local childcare centers. We plan to facilitate the development of a community supported agriculture (CSA) for Farm to Child Care to increase buying power of local, fresh produce. The high cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is listed as one of the barriers to access to healthy foods. In order to keep the cost of food low, many child care centers and families are resorting to buying little fresh produce. Many factors impact the child care center’s ability to increase the amount of fresh produce on their menu including cost, availability, and time spent to travel to place that sells local produce.
Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care Centers (NAP SACC) is a tool to improve nutrition and physical activity standards in child care settings. We utilize this tool to assess childcare centers for The KEY 2 a Healthy Start. KEYS 4 Healthy Kids has partnered with childcare centers that completed NAP SACC before participating in workshops and implementing policy and environment changes. The workshop topics include an overview of nutrition and physical activity policies, menu planning with registered dieticians, physical activity improvement opportunities, incorporating families into nutrition and physical activity goals, worksite wellness, and goal setting to measure progress.
Natural Learning Initiative
Natural Learning Environment are a new type of playground. They are spaces that provide enriching outdoor learning opportunities that contribute to healthy development. Gardening is one of several but perhaps the most important element of a natural learning environment. Research shows that children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they have planted and cared for them. KEYS has also seen this in firsthand experience! Because of this, we incorporated gardening into our school and childcare projects. To date, we have worked with 65 child care programs and 16 schools on garden projects. There are 10 completed natural learning environments that include: climbing structures, musical instruments, shade trees, a diverse selection of flowers, art areas, creative entry ways, wheeled toy areas and loose parts to build forts and tunnels. All natural learning environment sites are shared use meaning that they are open to the public.