Orlando Region

Children learn the ABCs of healthy eating.

Young children are susceptible to influencers - both good and bad - that surround them daily. Therefore, it's never too early to be a positive influence and encourage healthy habits. After all, instilling practices like "please" and "thank you" and looking both ways before crossing the street benefit young people throughout their lives.

That's why Nemours and the BCBSF Foundation teamed up to bring the Healthy Habits for Life Child Care Resource Kits to Orlando child care centers. The 100-page guide and DVD -- available in both English and Spanish – were developed through a collaboration among Nemours' KidsHealth, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, and Sesame Workshop. The curriculum and associated resources help educators and parents teach young children about nutrition and active living through group poems and songs, posters, activities, family newsletters and interactive games like "Cookie, Cookie, Cucumber."

By modifying the familiar childhood game "Duck, Duck, Goose," "Cookie, Cookie, Cucumber" helps children learn to distinguish 'sometimes' foods (cookies, candy and chips) from 'anytime' foods (fruits and vegetables).

Understanding 'sometimes' and 'anytime' foods is just one lesson nearly 4,000 three-to-five-year-olds in central Florida have learned from Healthy Habits for Life Child Care Resource Kits - which use Sesame Street characters to keep children's interest and attention.

Education is just part of the story. Children, parents and educators now consume healthier foods, drink fewer sodas and participate in daily physical activity!

One child care provider said, "The children were at lunch and were telling me which foods were an 'anytime' food and which were a 'sometimes' food. It was so incredible to see the children discussing this. The program obviously works and leaves a great impression on our children. I am so excited to bring this program to all of our providers."

"Parents are mentioning that children are coming home talking about fruits and vegetables," said a different teacher.

Another educator told a story about how one child told his parent that he did not want to eat at a fast food hamburger restaurant because the fries were "sometimes" food.

With the BCBSF Foundation's support, Nemours far surpassed its initial goal of teaching program directors from 10 child care centers how to use Healthy Habits for Life Child Care Resource Kits. By training educators from child care organizations (like the early learning coalitions) to teach others about the resource kit, to date, more than 120 central Florida child care centers and over 4,000 children have benefited from the partnership between the BCBSF Foundation and Nemours.