YMCA Plants Garden To Teach Kids Healthy Habits

Tuesday, May 10th 2011, 11:51 am
By: News 9

Deanne Stein, News9.com

EDMOND, Oklahoma -- Studies show only 16 percent of Oklahomans eat the required amount of fruits and vegetables each day. That's why the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City is working to change that percentage by educating children through it's pilot program "Eating from the Garden."

The YMCA has taught kids the importance of healthy eating and exercise for years. But now, its stepping it up to offer a hands-on component where kids can really dig in and learn.

"Having the hands-on opportunity for the kids just drives home where food comes from," says Angela Jones with the YMCA. "We can talk about it all day long in the classroom, but unless we get them out here and touching the food and really seeing what goes in to food being produced, then they're not connecting the dots."

The pilot program started a couple of months ago at the Edmond location on Rankin Street. Volunteers spent a weekend building 14 raised beds for the kids to use. Last month, they started planting tomatoes. Then, the kids will tackle okra and peppers and later even an herb garden.

"With the different types of fruits and vegetables that we'll grow here, we are trying to teach them the element of what types of vitamins and minerals are found in those foods," says Jones. "But we also want to make sure they are really clear on what their plate should look like."

The garden at the YMCA in Edmond will be planted, watered and maintained by the kids in its after school program and summer camps. The Y hopes the garden will not only teach the kids about healthy eating but also keep them active.

"There are a lot of kids who don't like to be in traditional sports, and so these types of activities, gardening being one, allows them to get physical without really knowing that we're making them do that," says Jones.

The garden is only available at the Edmond YMCA, but if it's successful, more gardens could crop up in the next year at other Y locations throughout the metro.

Sign your kids up for the Edmond YMCA's Summer Program.