Monday, October 22, 2012


When I am least expecting it, people share profound observations with me that remind me how valuable the mission of the Growing Healthy Kids movement to reverse, halt, and prevent childhood obesity is.  One of these was a sentinel event about five years ago that led to me making the decision to form a nonprofit organization focused on education projects and services. 

After giving a talk on preventable chronic diseases to a community organization, one of the audience members came up to talk with me.  She was a social worker at one of Indian River County’s elementary schools and was desperate for help with a student who was very overweight.  The social worker confided that the girl’s grades were slipping, she was skipping class, and she had a very low self-image of herself.  I started making calls to offer my knowledge and experience and found myself stuck in layers of school district bureaucracy.  It was a very frustrating experience that I have never forgotten. 

This led to me learning about the “food deserts” in some communities where there are no markets or stores within walking distance of where people live that sell fresh vegetables and fruits and where lack of transportation to large stores is also a barrier for kids having access to fresh foods.  I started looking at what America’s kids who get their breakfast and lunches in school are eating compliments of the USDA.  I was appalled to learn that elementary age kids get 30 minutes of physical education a week in school.   When I grew up, we had a regular P.E. class every day through high school.  I had to do something meaningful with my frustration over a little girl, who through no fault of her own, was extremely overweight and becoming more and more socially isolated. 

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. is a nonprofit organization which has now reached thousands of kids and adults with our healthy cooking programs, education workshops, and educational websites.  The work, however, is just beginning because the numbers of children who are not at healthy weights are increasing. 

Educating parents is a critical step in solving the childhood obesity epidemic.   Someone you know wants to know how to help their kids.  You can help us educate parents with your purchase of the new book, NOURISH AND FLOURISH, filled with valuable tips, lists, and kid-tested recipes that put knowledge into the hands of parents.    All profits go to Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  

Have a healthy day!
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


For a group of kids each seeking mentors to spend time with them for one year, one special day can be very meaningful.  Last Saturday, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc., together with Florida Outdoor Center and Youth Guidance Mentoring and Activities Program, created the LOVING YOUR LAGOON event in Sebastian, Florida to bring together children and volunteers in beautiful Riverview Park. 

As in every Growing Healthy Kids event, the children participating in LOVING YOUR LAGOON received messages about the importance of physical fitness and eating real foods.  They also received a valuable lesson on environmental education by the wonderful Kristen Beck about our responsibility as stewards and protectors of our fragile Intracoastal Waterway, the Indian River Lagoon.   Kristen spoke about the dramatic losses of sea grass and the changes she is seeing in the water.  It was great to see the kids asking lots of questions.  

Kristen and husband Mike run an annual Summer Kids Kayak Camp from Florida Outdoor Center and are on the water every day.  She talked with the kids about the dramatic declines in sea life they observed this past summer.  The magnitude of these declines, their root causes, and their economic impact have yet to be responsibly addressed by local politicians and decision makers (note:  personal opinion) but the more kids see for themselves what is happening, the more we can engage the youth voice in solutions to ensure we have a healthy lagoon for all to enjoy. 

The high winds kept us from using individual kayaks last weekend but did not prevent the kids from getting out on the water in what I like to call Mike’s Big Boat.  It holds about ten people and is safe even in windy conditions.  For most of these kids, last Saturday was their first time to step into a kayak or canoe.  For the group of kids who saw the large dolphin jump completely out of the water about six feet off the bow of the boat, it was an experience they will never forget!  I heard the sounds of their surprise and delight from the long dock where I stood waiting for them to make the turn back to shore. 

We capped our morning of environmental education and paddling fitness with a bounty of fresh foods as the kids learned how to make Whole Food Pasta Salad and Veggie Wraps.   Both recipes featured fresh greens grown here in Indian River County by Kevin O’Dare, owner of Osceola Organics.  Thank you, Kevin, for contributing your beautiful salad mix to our LOVING YOUR LAGOON event and for helping us in our work to educate kids and parents about the importance of eating real foods.

It was a great morning with great kids, great learning, and great volunteers.  Wow!!  Enjoy the pics!
First stop of LOVING YOUR LAGOON - orientation with Kristen Beck of Florida Outdoor Center

Kristen Beck with kids at one of the interpretative stops

Engaging the kids in active learning to erase their nature deficits.  

Some of the kids posing with the statute of Paul Kroegel, first protector of the birds on Pelican Island.  

Kristen Beck talking about the dramatic losses of sea grass

Can you say, "white caps"?  

Kristen Beck with Haile, one of the kids at LOVING YOUR LAGOON.

Greg (left) from Florida Outdoor Center helps get the kids safely back to shore.  

Volunteer Marcia Nesbitt enjoying the calming winds. 

Kids learning to make the delicious pasta salad dressing using fresh squeezed lemons.  Healthy eating is so much fun  when it is "all hands on deck". 

Here’s to your great health!
Nancy Heinrich
Founder of the Growing Healthy Kids movement

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. is dedicated to improving the health – and lives – of America’s children, one child and one garden at a time.    You can support our work by shopping, volunteering, and donating furniture and goods to the Growing Healthy Kids Variety Store, 3300 43rd Avenue, Vero Beach, FL. 32960.