Young children across Alaska are learning how to become healthy eaters and active kids by doing what comes naturally to them — looking at books and playing with toys.
Child care providers play an important role in helping to develop healthy eating and physical activity habits in young children. The Alaska Obesity Prevention and Control Program worked with the national Let's Move initiative and Thread, Alaska’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network, to provide training and resources to child care centers and day care homes to support healthy eating and physical activity habits. These habits include providing water to thirsty children, rather than sugary drinks, and increasing time spent in active play.
“Our goal is to help the youngest Alaskans grow up at a healthy weight,” said Diane Peck with the Alaska Obesity Prevention and Control Program. “Child care programs can provide a healthy environment for children to eat, play, grow, and develop healthy habits for life.”
To help make these changes fun for kids, the program provides resources that encourage healthy eating and active play, such as age-appropriate physical activity equipment, fruit and vegetable food models, and children’s books highlighting healthy foods and kids being active.
Kelley Polasky, with Friendly Days Childcare in Juneau, recently completed the program.
“I've really enjoyed the toys and resources provided through the Let's Move initiative. The resources gave us great ideas for organized and free play,” she said. “The kids especially love the wrist ribbons! They are played with every day. From free dance to organized movements, they are a hit! We also have a toy kitchen, and the healthy toy foods allow the children to cook and pretend serving foods that are good for them. ”