This week we have the wonderful Claire O’Meara from Little Lifestylers telling us why it is so important that children are given the opportunity to grow their own food. Claire O’Meara is a ambassador for Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Food Revolution Day 2013 this year falls on Friday 17th May. One downside to our modern lifestyle and technology is the lack of time children spend outside amongst nature whilst being active. It is a real loss for our little ones not to have a concept of where their food comes from, and the wonder of watching a plant grow from a seed. I am passionate that every child should have access to nature and fresh produce, even if that is simply a herb garden in a window box, a plant of potted veg on the patio, or better yet a veggie patch in the garden. The obesity crisis is at epidemic proportions in this country. Doctors are considering giving under 16’s gastric bypasses to save lives, while the UK holds the title for the highest rate of childhood obesity in Europe. One-quarter of children are overweight or obese by the age of four and by the age of 11, this rises to one-third. 96% of UK kids do not eat the recommended five portions of fruit and veg a day. Which is why I set up Little Lifestylers. This social enterprise gives children and their parents access to a community garden to grow their own produce, and learn how to cook it healthily, whilst providing nutritional education, which is a solid basis for their healthy future. Gardening provides different forms of engagement for children, including designing, planting, and maintaining gardens; Harvesting, preparing, and sharing food; working cooperatively in groups; learning about science and nutrition; and creating art and stories inspired by being outdoors. The Little Lifestylers Kitchen Garden Project aims to encourage and assist communities to create facilities, whilst providing training and the resources required to teach children the joys of having fresh food, from plough to plate. Utilizing tools such as the Illustrated Veggie Bunch characters will make learning fun, interactive and teach them the value of healthy eating. The Scientifically proven health benefits of a project of this nature include:?
- Improved behaviour and engagement in a learning environment.
- Increased willingness to try new foods.
- Improved knowledge, confidence and skills in relation to cooking and gardening.
- Increased self-esteem and motivation?
- Learning to interact with others.
- The more frequent the cooking and growing classes can be provided, the more likely it will become a lifestyle for the participating child.
- The opportunity to address the alarming increase of diet-related illnesses worldwide.