By Meghan Hamrock
The Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative has made significant progress since its launch in August 2012. Based on Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Childcare goals, the Boston Healthy Childcare Initiative seeks to overcome overweight and obesity in young children at childcare programs through their top eight Best Practice Standards. By addressing healthy eating habits, enhancing physical activity, reducing screen time, and encouraging breastfeeding practices, the overarching goal of achieving a healthy weight among young children is within reach.
Three childcare programs were recognized in February 2013 as having fully adopted the Best Practice Standards. To receive this recognition, not only must the Best Practice Standards be fully implemented, but a policy must also be developed and shared with parents. Today, just four months later, 17 more childcare programs are eligible for this same recognition.
Elisa Rodrigues is the Healthy Childcare Initiative Coordinator and has seen transformations take place since the start. She says, “The best part about my job is when programs actually make changes, and listening to them speak of the changes and how the children respond in a positive manner.”
As for the benefits of the Healthy Childcare Initiative, not only have more than 1,750 children been introduced to healthier habits at a young age, but also 130 childcare programs in Boston have completed the two-part workshop training in attempt to build a healthier environment for children. In addition, all childcare providers who follow the best practices have the opportunity to receive incentives such as healthy eating and physical activity posters and musical CDs to enhance playtime. Providers that complete an action plan may receive an additional item bonus to help enhance their physical activity or healthy eating goals.
If a licensed childcare program is interested in scheduling a training for their staff or are interested in the upcoming two-part workshop (below) about the Best Practices Standards, they should contact the Healthy Childcare Initiative Coordinator, Elisa Rodrigues, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meghan is the Boston Moves For Health Intern and recently had the chance to participate in observations for the Healthy Childcare Initiative.