Non-Profit Touts Gardening in Schools to Fight Childhood Obesity

One non-profit organization is fighting childhood obesity by teaching kids to have a green thumb. NY1's Thabie Sibanda explains why the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness believes gardening is the key.

From encouraging children to get up and move to urging them to make healthier food choice, the Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness (SIPCW) is on a mission to improve child health and wellness in the borough. The non-profit is urging schools to "Go Green for Gardens".

"It's all about inspiring schools to plant gardens; plant vegetable gardens. This is all about having kids become healthier through eating healthier. And you know what; kids will eat what they grow," said SIPCW Grant Manager Jody Stoll.

They held their second annual Staten Island Garden Summit Friday at the Michael J. Petrides School. The non-profit partnered up with the New York City Department of Education. It was a day packed with presentations and other learning opportunities for educators, all about creating healthy programs for students through gardening. Organizers say twice the amount of educators showed up for the second year.

"Principals are hearing about it and are really asking us to come to their schools to help them to create gardens and to have the resources for them to really have healthy gardens and healthy programs," said Stoll.

"I think people really got to learn a lot and learn how to bring things back their own schools. They got to see what's happening in other schools,” said Principal Joanne Buckheit. “To see how excited kids could be about this work."

Four schools also got to showcase what they're already doing to help kids get healthy, from a little tots yoga class to an interactive game that teaches gardening principles.

"We have all healthy fruits and vegetables in our garden so we want to encourage people to grow their own garden and to like have more fruits and vegetables in their diet," said student Isabel Silva.

"We think we've found like a secret bullet here to fight childhood obesity," said Stoll.

And organizers say the research shows exposing kids to gardens helps them learn to love healthy food.

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