Broward County Commissioners passed a law on Tuesday September 9, 2014 that requires all preschools applying for licensure to adopt healthy lifestyle standards in order to be approved for licensing. It was an amazing win for the team of educators and partners which was composed of: FLIPANY (Florida introduces physical activity and nutrition to youth), Broward Regional Health Planning Council, Early Learning Coalition and Family Central.
For the past three years the team of educators have worked together to promote the TOUCH (transforming our communities health) initiative throughout Broward County. The TOUCH initiative is composed of four focus areas: Tobacco Free living, Active Living and Healthy eating, High quality clinical and preventative services and Healthy and safe physical environments.
The focus of Registered Dietitians, nutrition educators and physical activity educators from FLIPANY, Family Central and the Early Learning Coalition is to promote the Caring for our Children standards written by the Academy of Pediatrics and Academy of Public Health to help reduce the amount of childhood obesity in Broward County by promoting nutrition education and physical activity.
A summary of the healthy standards promoted by the TOUCH initiative in Broward County preschools are:
- Beverage standards: Juice served not more than 1 time per week, low-fat milk offered to children over the age of 2, promotion of drinking and access to water daily.
- Healthy snacks: Increasing fresh fruits and vegetables in daily snacks and decreasing high sugar high fat foods during snack time.
- Reduced screen time: Screen time limited to 30 minutes per week (including computers, TV, movies, iPads).
- Increased physical activity: Encouraging 90-120 minutes of indoor/outdoor play for an eight hour school day.
- Role modeling: Teachers are encouraged to make healthy choices in front of the students and promote family style eating during lunch.
The TOUCH initiative provided physical activity equipment, a set of 8 children’s books, a binder full of nutrition related resources, lesson plans and parent related letters and handouts. FLIPANY developed a plethora of resources, manuals and supportive materials for the initiative to expand on the nutrition education topic.
Although the win may seem small, these baby steps and small victories will gradually build parents, teachers, schools and kids arsenal in order to slowly chip away at the ominous numbers of childhood obesity and related chronic diseases.
For more information concerning the TOUCH initiative visit: http://touchbroward.org/
For more information concerning FLIPANY visit: www.FLIPANY.org