Helping Their Gardens and Students Grow

September 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm , by

AHAgarden31Inspired by Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, environmental and health activist Kelly Meyer decided to stop complaining about the lack of healthy options for her children and do something about it.

With friends in Los Angeles she started Teaching Garden, an initiative to put gardens and corresponding nutrition curricula in local schools. She thought the best way to teach healthy habits from the start would be to provide kids with a garden, where they could learn hands-on about where food really comes from: “the ground, not the vending machine or the cereal box,” Meyer says.

Studies show that healthy kids perform better in school, and with 1 in 3 American children now obese, it’s clear more schools could use a program like this one.

As part of the kickoff of NBC’s Education Nation summit Monday, Teaching Garden and the American Heart Association (AHA) invited a group of New York City schoolchildren to Rockefeller Center to announce their goal of putting 1,000 gardens in schools across the country over the next two years. That’s Meyer, above, far left, with AHA chairperson Debra Lockwood, TV funnyman Jimmy Fallon and 5th graders from KIPP Infinity School.

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The kids, whose school will receive a teaching garden, were treated to an impromptu visit from NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, a chat with the legendary surfer AHAgarden1Laird Hamilton (left), and a reading from Fallon (below).

“We’re trying to reinvent the idea of health from an early age,” says Lockwood. “This is the perfect science-based program to teach our children where our food comes from.”

Fallon read the kids a book from a collection that was donated to the school’s library, but the real prize is the garden, Meyer says. “You can learn about soil and the earth and our food from a book, but I think that a sense of wonder is a very legitimate thing. We want them to actually see it.”

Want to bring a garden to a school near you? Visit the Teaching Garden web site to learn more.

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