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Child Care Center Event Gets Kids Moving, Thinking About Nutrition

Child Care Center Event Gets Kids Moving, Thinking About Nutrition

Posted: April 20, 2015

On April 10, Buckham Hall's gymnasium was filled with toddlers and preschoolers shooting hoops, kicking soccer balls, doing yoga stretches, and even enjoying a little kale—cleverly mixed into a special “green lemonade”—as part of a healthy behaviors initiative designed for the Buffalo State Child Care Center.

Katrina Whitlow, a graduate student in the multidisciplinary public relations program with two kids enrolled in the center, created the “It’s a Great Day!” event as her final project. Loosely modeled after First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative to fight childhood obesity, “It’s a Great Day!” featured a half-day of exercise followed by a catered lunch from Buffalo’s Code Blu Juice Bar.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 17 percent of 2-to-5-year-old children were overweight and 14 percent were obese in 2012.

“Many daycares and schools do not have ongoing programs or yearly events that raise awareness about this issue or incorporate prevention strategies that could be used by families as well as educators,” Whitlow said. “My strategic campaign, hopefully, will raise awareness and increase healthy eating habits, physical activity opportunities, and nutrition education.”

Hal Payne, vice president for student affairs, started the day off by talking with the children about nutritious foods and asking the kids to list their favorites. He was followed by campus COMPASS volunteers who helped preschoolers connect basketballs with just-their-size nets and representatives from Soccer Shots who demonstrated the finer points of dribbling while having fun.

“Although the kids go outside or play in the gym every day, it’s nice to have a day designated specifically for exercise and nutrition,” said Child Care Center director Jennifer Minet, who added she’d like to see the event offered on an annual basis if funding is available.

For her event, Whitlow received a grant from the Faculty-Student Association (FSA) to cover the food, basketball equipment, videography, T-shirts, and giveaways. She also secured donations from local businesses.

“The center has been looking for funding and being able to have this event for free was huge,” she said.

Some parents came to watch the kids in action, including Lanyra Jennings, an undergraduate criminal justice major who has a 2-year-old daughter at the center.

“I think it’s important to keep kids active,” she said. “My daughter has already expressed interest in cheerleading, and she likes basketball, too.”

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