As We See It

A gardening-based nutrition program for CCSD students gets a big boost in 2016


With Nevada ranked 11th in the U.S. for childhood obesity—which affects one of five kids in Clark County—someone had to spring into action. Enter Create a Change Now. According to executive director Melissa Blynn, the nonprofit, formed in 2009, has enacted its Healthy School, Healthy Life indoor/outdoor classroom program in 13 schools. But come next year, that tally could double—or more. Through the facility of Clark County School District, any elementary school will be able to take part for the 2016-2017 year, whether teachers incorporate the lessons into their own curriculums or elect to have a CACN-trained volunteer do the instruction.

CACN provides relevant nutritional education and resources to students through classroom instruction and, most importantly, experience in gardens it has built in schools. The children in turn adopt lifestyle behaviors that not only help prevent health problems, but properly feed their brains and improve scholastic performance. “If they come to school malnourished and not eating food that’s nourishing to their brains, it definitely can impact their ability to learn and retain information significantly,” Blynn says. “We know what we’re doing can definitely enhance grades and performance long-term.”

It’s also an effort for which CCSD doesn’t have to budget. Its School-Community Partnership Program works with hundreds of organizations on anything from classroom academic support and field trips to campus beautification, all funded not by the school district or taxpayers, but the partners’ sponsors. Next year’s learning-garden ramp-up is being underwritten in full by Cashman Equipment.

The learning gardens are invaluable in more ways than one, according to Cheryl Wagner, a coordinator for the partnership program and a former science teacher. “I have personally seen the value of hands-on, real-live experience for our children. They can read and hear teachers lecture, but actually getting out and doing it yourself? That implants it into their brain. It’s so incredibly powerful.”

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Tags: Health
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