Cat Cora and Laird Hamilton Join Co-Founders at NBC News' Education Nation to Unveil Model Garden and National Plan
DALLAS, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Heart Association and Kelly Meyer, an environmental and health activist, are unveiling the "ground-breaking" Teaching Garden program at the "Learning Plaza" hosted by NBC News in New York City. This week, the Network is broadcasting an in-depth conversation about ways to improve America's education system.
Studies consistently show that healthy behavior positively impacts learning. Today, nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese. The Teaching Garden model targets elementary and middle school-aged students, teaching them what it means to eat healthy and be physically active. The goal of the program is to improve children's health, which often correlates to improvements in children's academic and physical performance.
Fewer than one in 10 high school students receive the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables daily. French fries are the most common source of vegetables consumed by children and make up one-fourth of their vegetable intake.
The American Heart Association's Teaching Garden program provides a hands-on learning experience rooted in offering kids nutritional food choices. It is a real life laboratory where students learn how to plant seeds, nurture the growing plants, harvest the food, and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits and the importance of physical activity.
"We need to eliminate roadblocks to learning," said Teaching Garden Founder Kelly Meyer. "When I heard the staggering statistics about how much obesity-related illnesses are impacting our children, I was driven to do something to inspire kids to get healthy. The simple process of putting a seed into the earth, nurturing it and harvesting the food teaches our kids to make positive choices for health and fitness. I'm proud to join forces with the American Heart Association to dramatically advance what can be accomplished to improve the well-being of our children."
"Our hope is that by teaching kids where vegetables come from and the benefits of healthy eating we can inspire change and reverse the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country," said Ralph Sacco, MD, American Heart Association president. "Besides changing their own eating habits, children may also motivate other family members to modify their diets and improve cardiovascular health. We are honored to join with founder Kelly Meyer and bring the gardens to life in communities across America.
As part of the initial rollout, several new Teaching Gardens will be completed by early 2011 with hundreds more to be announced later in the year and beyond. The American Heart Association and Meyer are working to secure sponsors to provide critical funding to build and sustain the gardens. Some of the first gardens will be planted at the following schools:
- KIPP Infinity Charter School, New York, NY
- Trico Elementary, Campbell Hill, IL
- Oak Hill Elementary School, Fairfax, VA
- Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars, Los Angeles, CA
- Greater Atlanta Christian School, Atlanta, GA
- Cy Fair School District, Houston, TX
- Charles L Warstler Elementary School, Canton, OH
- Navajo Elementary School, Scottsdale, AZ
- Henry Hudson School No. 28, Rochester, NY
Celebrities, athletes and chef personalities including Cat Cora, Tamra Davis, Derek Fisher, Laird Hamilton, Toby Maguire and Gabrielle Reece, among others, have lent their support , bringing attention to the program and the importance of helping kids grow up healthy with brighter futures. Cora, Hamilton and Reece will help unveil the garden on the NBC Plaza.
The Teaching Garden is part of a larger American Heart Association "healthy behavior change revolution" designed to help Americans understand what it means to be healthy, and to take action. This multi-year initiative will reinforce the value of eating well, being physically active, and ultimately creating a healthy body and mind. It will include a national rallying cry for change, simple actions to improve daily well-being, community enrichment, calls for commitment and a credible one-stop-shop for guidance.
For more information about how to contribute, please contact Alex Barbieri, American Heart Association Senior Cause Manager, at 214-706-1279. For more information about the Teaching Garden program and how your school can participate, visit www.takepart.com/teachinggarden.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Our mission is to build healthier lives by preventing, treating and defeating these diseases – America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers. We fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join us in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit americanheart.org.
About Kelly Meyer
In response to America's childhood obesity crisis, Kelly Meyer created the Teaching Garden program in 2010. She has been a long-time environmental and health activist. Among her accomplishments, she has helped raise more than $40 million for pioneering cancer research, lobbied Congress to reform the Toxic Substance Control Act, built California's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum-Certified home and has held prominent positions with the Natural Resources Defense Council. A tireless fundraiser for environmental causes, she recently supported the implementation of the Marine Life Preserve Area (MLPA) on the coast of Southern California.
SOURCE American Heart Association