A local day care is aiming to combat obesity after receiving a grant to improve its outdoor facilities.
Preventing Obesity by Design, an N.C. State University program created to improve children’s health, is looking to implement a playground project to fight obesity at Chapel Hill Day Care Center.
Representatives from the program will hold a community meeting tonight for project discussion at Christ United Methodist Church.
BlueCross BlueShield donated a grant to fund the project, which promotes physical activity and nutrition in young children by pinpointing low-quality outdoor learning environments and improving them.
“(We want to) counteract sedentary lifestyles and motivate children to move,” said Nilda Cosco, director of the program, which was created by N.C. State’s Natural Learning Initiative.
The initiative promotes daily use of nature in children’s learning experiences.
The program grant contributes $2,500 toward tools and supplies. Any other funding necessary will come from community donations.
The Orange County Partnership for Young Children, whose mission is to prepare children five years old and younger to enter school, worked to get the grant for the Chapel Hill community.
The partnership for young children is 90 percent state-funded but also holds fundraisers, like the “Rock, Rattle and Roll” benefit concert to be held Oct. 24 at Southern Village.
Patrick McIntyre, community development director of the partnership, said the organization became interested in the project after it identified obesity management as a priority on a list of community needs.
Kate Sanford, director of Chapel Hill Day Care Center, said the day care applied for the project after learning that the partnership received the grant.
Sanford said the children of the day care will benefit as the quality of the outdoor spaces improves.
“As time goes on, the greenery will grow, change and evolve. This is great to give kids an appreciation for the natural environment and become more involved in gardening,” Sanford said.
The Orange County partnership is a branch of Smart Start and The North Carolina Partnership for Children, which aims to ensure children have their needs for development met.
Obesity is an issue of calories taken in versus calories worked off, as well as environmental factors, Cosco said.
North Carolina was ranked 11th in the nation for childhood obesity in Trust for America’s Health’s “F as in Fat” report, which was released in June.
To counteract this, the project will also educate children on where their food comes from, promote physical activity and encourage children to learn about the cycle of food, Cosco said.
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