The American Heart Association announces that Macdonough Elementary School in Middletown will receive a Teaching Garden thanks to Aetna and its team of nurses.
The school’s Garden Club will receive the materials needed to plant a real-life laboratory with garden-themed lessons in nutrition, math, science and other subjects.
The garden is possible through a unique sponsorship provided by Aetna and its nurses, who will lead the Plant Day Celebration on May 17 and provide continuous support through the harvest.
The Macdonough Elementary School Teaching Garden was created using American Heart Association science and nutrition guidelines coupled with information from gardening and education experts, all thanks to Teaching Garden founder Kelly Meyer.
Aimed at elementary school students, Teaching Gardens provide hands-on experience nurturing growing plants, harvesting produce and ultimately understanding the value of good eating habits.
Numerous studies have shown that participation in school garden programs can have a positive impact on student’s attitudes toward fruits and vegetables.
Macdonough currently works to educate students through their Garden Club, which meets weekly. The new Teaching Garden will provide staff and students upgraded materials and curriculum.
“We are thrilled to have been selected to receive an American Heart Association Teaching Garden and thankful for Aetna’s sponsorship,” said Amy Waterman, program coordinator, Family Resources Center, Macdonough Elementary. “This opportunity gives our students in the garden club further hands-on experience and an interactive nutrition curriculum that can help produce life-long, heart-healthy habits.”
The program is designed to encourage healthy diets in young children and to help combat childhood obesity, which has reached epidemic proportions. Today, nearly one in three children and adolescents in the U.S. is overweight or obese.
Some experts predict today’s children are not expected to live as long as their parents — the first time ever for an entire generation’s life expectancy to drop. Less than 1 percent of the population, and almost no children in the United States ages 5-19, have ideal health as it relates to the Healthy Diet Score.
With the addition of this new garden, Aetna nurses and the American Heart Association will provide a total of five Teaching Gardens in select schools across the U.S.
The Teaching Garden program curriculum challenges students to make small changes, including healthier food choices, to improve their health,” said Marissa Greider, American Heart Association Vice President- Youth Market, “The goal is to make healthy foods fun, and provide opportunities for children to try and enjoy healthy foods. We hope this leads to lifelong healthy habits.”
The Teaching Gardens program is part of a larger American Heart Association, My Heart. My Life. healthy living initiative, designed to help Americans understand what it means to be healthy, and to take action.