Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Child's Tender Touch

Paradise greetings,

Since Growing Healthy Kids planted its first gardens in October, there has been a lot of joy and fun watching the kids connect with nature in a way that many of them have not done before. When we meet outside at the garden it is to first observe and record the changes. What has changed from the previous week? How much have our plants grown? Any weeds? Bugs? How big are the tomatoes?

What I am observing is how gently the children tend their garden. When I point out a weed that has sprung up, someone will carefully and methodically pull it out so they get the roots.

Many of the kids I'm playing with live in rental houses. Some are moving from relative to relative because a parent had their job down-sized. Some kids live in apartments, some in duplexes. They don't have anyplace where they can grow a plant, take care of it, and watch it grow. Some of the kids have told me they are glad they have a garden now so they can learn how to make things and provide some food to help their parents.

When Growing Healthy Kids surveyed 150 kids in the summer, most kids said they wanted to learn how to cook healthy foods, so we are doing that. They are learning to make healthy snacks. They do so enthusiastically. They are getting to choose health.

I am thankful that my Vero Beach Kiwanis Club members have totally embraced this project. I am thankful that the staff of Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian River County has allowed me to build boxes filled with dirt and plants and bring weekly lessons to the children they serve. I am thankful that the Youth Guidance program loves what Growing Healthy Kids is bringing to the kids they serve.

A lot of what Growing Healthy Kids is about is teaching kids to respect nature. When we respect nature, we learn how to respect ourselves and each other.

Growing Healthy Kids is about improving the health - and lives - of children, one garden and one child at a time.

To your perfect health,
Nancy Heinrich,
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids