For Early Care Providers
Healthy Kids Learn Better
Studies have shown that by promoting and adopting wellness policies, children miss less days of school, are more active during the day, and have access to healthier food choices. As educators of young children, you care about helping them grow up healthy and strong and you know that early childhood environments play a critical role in the comprehensive approach to improving child health. Implementing a wellness policy will demonstrate that your organization recognizes the importance of lifelong health and that lifelong health and learning starts in early childhood.
The Department of Public Health developed training curricula for early care settings: Eat. Move. Talk!, The Growing Fit Kit: Wellness policies in Georgia’s Early Care Environment, and Georgia Asthma Management in Childcare Settings (GAME-CS). The toolkits are each accompanied by an associated training to guide early care educators in wellness program and policy development and practices to create healthy learning environments for Georgia’s children.
Eat. Move. Talk!
Eat. Move. Talk! is an integrated healthy eating, physical activity, and language nutrition curriculum for Early Childhood Educators, providing healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity to infants and children. This type of education helps their bodies develop and grow. Language Nutrition is just as important. Language Nutrition is the practice of exposing children, from birth, to words that support brain development. The amount and the type of words, like healthy food, is critical to developing babies’ brains.
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and partners Emory University, the Atlanta Speech School, and HealthMPowers, Inc. have developed Eat. Move. Talk!. DPH and HealthMPowers, Inc. are training early childhood educators as coaches, who will model healthy eating, physical activity, and Language Nutrition practices, and teach families to adopt these healthy behaviors at home.
Training and Toolkit
Early childhood educators participating in Eat. Move. Talk! will:
- Learn practical strategies for increasing healthy eating, physical activity, and Language Nutrition in the center and in the home
- Receive the Eat. Move. Talk! Toolkit and a package of items including books, posters, and other materials that support healthy eating, physical activity, and language nutrition
- Receive DECAL approved continuing education units
The Toolkit contains:
- An introduction to the importance of healthy eating, physical activity, and Language Nutrition in early childhood
- Resources and strategies to increase healthy eating, physical activity, and Language Nutrition in the center and in the home
- Success stories from early child care and education settings
DPH and HealthMPowers, Inc. have trained 191 early childhood educators in Eat. Move. Talk! These educators come from 13 early childhood education centers reaching more than 1,500 children zero to five years old.
In follow up surveys, centers have reported using strategies and resources in the training and toolkit to increase healthy eating, physical activity, and Language Nutrition within their centers and to share with families for use in the home.
For example, one center has organized a “grab and go” event once a month, where children are given healthy snacks and a book, and families are given recipes to try at home. The snacks, books, and recipes are thematically related. In the fall, students snack on apples slices and bring home a book about apples, and families receive recipes like an easy apple sauce or a fruit salad. Another center uses story time to support language development and movement with teachers and children acting out the motions described in story books.
A Focus on Health Equity
DPH has piloted these trainings in three Georgia communities: Clarkston, Dalton, and Valdosta, communities that have a high percentage of the population that speaks a language other than English in the home and/or a high percentage of racial and ethnic minorities. DPH has created a health disparities profile for the priority communities that will enable the DPH to understand the state of healthy eating, physical activity, and language acquisition/literacy. The health disparities profile will demonstrate the impact and progress of this project over time. This project is funded by Office of Minority Health’s Special Partnership Initiative to End Health Disparities.
For more information regarding the Eat. Move. Talk! Training, Toolkit, or Health Disparities Profile contact Georgia.Shape@dph.ga.gov.
- Georgia State Partnership for Food and Language Nutrition Health Disparities Profiles
- National Partnership of Action to End Health Disparitie
- Office of Minority Health State Partnership Initiative to End Health Disparities
The Department of Public Health (DPH)/ Georgia Shape, partnered with HealthMPowers, Inc., to develop the Growing Fit Toolkit and program. The program aims to promote healthy behaviors among children aged 0-5 through policy development, in efforts to establish healthy habits that can carry into all life stages. Early care educators are trained and provided with technical assistance in developing nutrition and physical activity wellness policies. These wellness policies use best practices to create a standard for early care educators. In addition, wellness policies work to support a healthy environment for Georgia’s early care centers. Click the Growing Fit Photo to view the Growing Fit Toolkit.
Growing Fit Kit: Wellness Policies in Georgia’s Early Care Environment
The tool kit contains:
Explanation of the importance of a wellness policy,
Self-assessment tool to evaluate current policies and practices
Success stories from other early care settings
Healthy eating and physical activity resources
Planning document with suggestions and examples for writing the policy
This educational learning experience features:
Growing Fit Kit: Wellness policies in Georgia’s Early Care Environment
Package of items including music and books about nurtition
DECAL approved CEU course
ABCs of Wellness Policies
Highlights and Success Stories
Growing Fit is currently entering its 5th year in providing professional development to early care providers. The Growing Fit trainings assist early care providers in nutrition and physical activity policy development for their centers. Overall, Growing Fit has trained 232 educators from 94 centers, reaching 7,785 children.
From following up with the centers, it has been reported that the toolkit and other training resources have been beneficial in increasing nutrition and physical activity policies and/or practices. The centers have incorporated Growing Fit materials within the centers and share information with parents.
I have been doing this for 23 years now and sometimes I find myself needing motivation. I did receive it in this class. I have been trying new recipes with my little ones, and we are making memories. My new goal for next year is to grow a very small garden with my little ones. I loved in class about making smoothies with the little ones and I was wondering how they would react when they saw that they were using fresh spinach as one of the ingredients, but they drank it all! I have learned there are ways of getting those veggies in on our little picky eaters.
- Dawn Bradley’s Learning Center
We have started eating fresh fruit every day and we are working on helping teach our parents good nutrition and exercising habits. We welcome any new ideas, and a lot of our parents are very young. This is a great time to help teach our children and their parents.
- Blackshear Presbyterian Child Care
For more information on Growing Fit Program, toolkit and/or the associated training contact:
Desiree Jonas, MPH
Child Health and Wellness Sr. Manager
- CDC Early Care and Education (ECE) Obesity Strategies
- Confetti Smoothie Recipe
- Whole Wheat Mini Pizza Recipe
- GAME-CS Fact Sheet Summary
Page last updated 11/27/2019