Today’s blog is written by Page Rogers, SC DHEC Community Health Educator.
What if children could plant veggies in colorful raised garden planters, play hide-and-seek among grass mazes, and hop along pathways made of tree cookies? Thanks to a program called Preventing Obesity by Design SC (POD-SC), children in Spartanburg can play – and learn – in such environments.
Through the collaborative efforts of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), ABC Quality at the SC Department of Social Services and NC State University’s Natural Learning Initiative (NLI), POD-SC was initiated in 2015. POD was developed by NLI and is a health promotion strategy designed to support physical activity, nutrition and learning outcomes for young children in a naturalized child care environment.
Over the past few years, Spartanburg County has made progress in decreasing childhood obesity rates, but the numbers are still alarmingly high. We know that the earlier children learn to adopt healthy lifestyles, the more likely those behaviors will become habits in adulthood. As much as we want to provide the healthiest food and active play for our children at home, it makes sense that we also want them to get a healthy start when they are in child care.
Five ABC Quality child care centers in Spartanburg are among 21 centers across the state to become a POD-SC learning environment demonstration site. Staff from local DHEC, Partners for Active Living and Eat Smart Move More Spartanburg County are helping Big Blue Marble, Kids First, Unique Kids, Miss Tammy’s and Ida Thompson Child Development Center launch outdoor learning spaces. Improving outdoor environments includes the installation of areas to plant and grow food, utilizing natural materials like wooden building blocks, and making outdoor spaces for young children more enriching for their cognitive and physical development. The addition of a looped curvy path is the foundation of most designs, with all other elements emanating from there.
Big Blue Marble and Kids First have hosted grand opening ceremonies and the other three are not far behind. We’re tickled to be able to help Spartanburg kids get a healthy start on a healthy life. When it comes to obesity prevention, it’s never too early to start…