Families Activas y Saludables/Families Active and Healthy (FAH) -Our Learning Moments…Healthy Eating and Active Living
We like to refer to the sixth blog as our learning moments as we implemented the twin strategies of healthy eating and active living during 2018.
Our healthy eating strategy centered on growing a school fruit and vegetable garden implemented within PROCEED’ Preschool 1 and Family Success Center and promoting a multi-generational involvement toward healthy eating. While we certainly had the involvement of the Parent Committee members, the youths from our Summer program, and the kids from the Preschool center for our 382 square feet of green space that we converted in our parking garage, we quickly learned that gardening is no small feat. Between hectic rush to the nurseries, shooing away the squirrels and the cat from the planters, intense Googling on plant growth milestones, and learning about bottom rots, scar-faced tomatoes, we developed a healthy respect for gardeners.
When we planted tomatoes and watered them regularly, got excited on seeing all the green foliage, little did we realize that our plants were getting an abundance of nitrogen, triggering foliage, but was deficient in phosphorous, a major element leading to flowering and fruiting. So, it was back to high school Chemistry and a struggle to balance the essential nutrients in soil for plant growth. We learned of a condition called “bottom rot” due to calcium deficiency in soils. We learned about spider mites, rotating the planters for the perfect sunlight, tomato scars, wilting yellow leaves, and misshapen tomatoes with funny shapes. Let it be known that throughout our journey to grow the perfect tomato, we read, sought advice and Googled a lot! Also, let it be known that while we struggled to grow the perfect heritage tomato (if we can call it so), we ended up growing the most delicious little plum tomatoes. In the process, we learned to appreciate our gardening milestones, and celebrate the harvest with parents. What we grew we shared! Kids learned to appreciate the most delicious lettuce; we cut the most perfectly formed mini-watermelon, and learned to harvest and dry herbs to add to recipes. In the green space we built, we found our Zen, and developed our green thumbs! We look forward to our garden adventure in 2019!
Our active living strategy involves opportunities for movement for all family members and their social networks. This is entirely parent driven. The impetus to start Zumba sessions came from the parent committee members. Counting the month of December, we have hosted 42 hours of Zumba classes. The classes have become one of the most popular offerings through the Family Success Center. Participants in a one-on-one conversation with Project Director shared that they try to exercise at home if they miss a session due to another engagement. Each of the participants have been provided with a pedometer that they use to track steps and report the total steps walked during a given week. Alongside the Zumba classes, the Project Director is in the exploratory stage to start a walk group for the community. Initial participants would be the Zumba group participants; other community residents will join in as the group starts to meet regularly at an area park. Along with the health benefits of regular walking, are the positive mental health stimuli that cannot be disputed. As a general goal, healthy adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. There is a public park within 0.2 miles radius located from PROCEED, Inc. The hope is that during the summer months, through a walk group, the residents would be able to get their daily physical activity. However, the input of the Zumba group would be actively sought as we put our heads together to start the walk group.
The program is supported by funding from Atlantic Health System as part of the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network.
About the Grantee
PROCEED's mission is to provide and connect people to educational, health and human services; and enhance the capacity of individuals and organizations to offer quality programs and services to their communities locally in NJ, and throughout the United States and its territories.
Cohort: North 4
Funder: Atlantic Health System