aetna, teaching, gardens

Teach a child to garden and she might eat her vegetables

Feb 13 2017

On the premise that children who grow fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them, the American Heart Association Teaching Garden program is helping children develop healthy habits early in life.

Launched in 2011, and supported by health activist Kelly Meyer, the program shows school students how to plant seeds, grow plants and harvest food. The goal is to help kids understand the value of good eating and the importance of nutrition.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 17 percent of American children aged 2 to 19 are obese. And obese children are more likely to become obese adults.  “Children who grow fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them,” Meyer said. “The Teaching Garden program provides hands-on experiences and an interactive curriculum where children are given the tools to build a foundation of healthy habits.”

In 2013, Aetna sponsored Teaching Gardens in five elementary schools across the country. In addition to providing financial support, Aetna nurses volunteered to help plant and build the gardens. Aetna went back to the five elementary schools in 2014 and is launching five new gardens in different locations.

“If we can give children an early start on learning about healthy eating and nutrition, they may carry that with them into the future,” said Susan Kosman, R.N., chief nursing officer for Aetna.

Second Year Gardens

  • Driggers Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas (Plant Day – April 3)
  • Ellwood School in Philadelphia (Plant Day – May 27)
  • Mitchell Elementary School in Chicago (Plant Day – May 16)
  • Macdonough Elementary School in Middletown, Connecticut (Plant Day – May 23)
  • Richardson Elementary School in Akron, Ohio (Plant Day – June 6)

New Gardens

  • Flynn Park Elementary School in St. Louis (Plant Day – May 12)
  • Comanche Elementary School in Overland Park, Kansas (Plant Day – August 29)
  • Oak View Elementary School in Atlanta (Plant Day – September 30)
  • Omaha, Nebraska (School and Plant Day TBD)
  • Downey School in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Plant Day – August 28)