In 2019, Tamassee DAR School’s Early Childhood Learning (ECL) was invited to participate in Palmetto HEALthie Start. This program is a two-year research opportunity designed to improve the quality and variety of healthy eating, physical activity, and outdoor play activities in childcare centers across the Upstate of South Carolina.
Other participants in the program include LiveWell Greenville which is a network of organizations partnering to ensure access to healthy eating and active living. SNAP–Ed teaches people who are eligible for SNAP about good nutrition and how to make their food dollars stretch further, and the importance of being physically active. The Youth Learning Institute of Clemson University promotes the responsibility of providing nutrition education to families and individuals throughout South Carolina. ECL is excited to be a part of this collaborative effort among health-wise organizations in the Upstate to educate and bring awareness to the families they serve.
This past spring, the process began with the ECL staff completing a self –assessment in the areas of nutrition and physical activities. For participating in the program, The Early Childhood Learning Center has been provided free access to Go NAP SACC which is a set of online tools that help early learning centers nationwide support children’s nutrition and physical activity habits. Janis Young Coordinator of the ECL said, “We have incorporated the nutritional suggestions of the program by introducing a new four week menu rotation. For snack, these menus offer a variety of fresh vegetables i.e. tri-colored peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers, etc. The children have been receptive to trying the vegetables and many enjoyed the new tastes and textures. We will be introducing local produce in season when possible.” Using the results from the online assessment, ECL created an action plan for improvement specific to our organization. Once the action plan was in place, center-focused online and in-person trainings became available at no cost to the ECL throughout the life of the program.
When the program culminates in the fall of 2021, ECL staff will perform the self-assessment once again and an onsite observational visit will occur along with a celebration of successful outcomes, and reflection for continued best practices.
Through participation in this program, ECL will gain access to online tools, in-person technical assistance, suggestions from experts in the field of childcare, nutrition advice, and ideas on healthy physical activities for young people.
Always investigating ways to be become the best early childhood learning center they can be, ECL is proud to have been selected as a participant in this two year study. The lessons they have learned so far have been incorporate into the daily care and educational opportunities for the children being serve. As we look to expand our Early Childhood Learning program and begin planning our summer program, please contact Janis Young at 864.944.2270 for additional information on enrollment possibilities.