Way to Go Beantown! Boston Celebrates Healthy Food and Physical Activity in Child Care
From Hyde Park to the South End, child care providers across Boston are making healthier choices for their children by joining the Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative, launched by Mayor Thomas M. Menino in his 2012 State of the City address. Since then, Boston has offered providers training and funding to improve their practices around the 5 goals of Let’s Move! Child Care — healthier food, nutritious drinks, increased physical activity, less screen time, and supporting infant feeding.
Three child care programs received recognition from the Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative earlier this year.
“Reaching children early is so important,” says Anne McHugh of the Boston Public Health Commission.
How are child care providers in Boston getting involved? Child care providers from centers and family child care homes are invited to attend two free 2.5-hour workshops that cover nutrition and physical activity based on the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care, offered in both English and Spanish. Participants earn child care educator continuing education units through the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. Then, using the Let’s Move! Child Care Checklist Quiz, providers create an action plan and set their own goals for improvement for the next 3-6 months.
So far, 175 child care programs – serving over 2,000 children total – have received training from the Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative. Many participants come from family child care programs. To encourage home-based providers to attend the training, some events are held on Saturdays. The workshops are a great opportunity for family child care providers to network with one another. They can share their own challenges and homegrown best practices, and problem solve – for example, how to best communicate with parents, or how to keep kids active during inclement weather or the winter months.
Boston has joined Let’s Move! Cities, Towns, and Counties and earned a gold medal in Goal I for promoting and integrating each of the five goals of Let’s Move! Child Care into policies and activities across the city. The city has already recognized 15 child care programs for their great work and looks forward to reaching many more providers and children in the coming year.
Inspired? Ask your child care provider to sign up now for Let’s Move! Child Care at http://www.healthykidshealthyfuture.org/welcome.html!