The goal of the Healthy Kids Festival is to provide sustainable tools and opportunities for low income families with young children (ages 3-8) to make healthy choices as he/she approaches the adolescent years. The event, hosted by Extension’s All 4 Kids Program in collaboration with local community partners provides long term solutions to childhood obesity through physical activity, healthy eating and other behaviors related to childhood obesity prevention.
Unlike many health fairs, the event focuses on the learning environment through interactive activities from local health, nutrition and physical activity specialists including youth sports, dance, gymnastics and other physical activity advocates, as well as local chefs, food growers and gardening experts. Educational activities such as reducing sugary beverages, enrolling children in their first 5k race, registering kids to participate in local team sports are all features of the festival that come together to create a special experience. Parents are provided with the opportunity to have children’s health indicators measured and explained, such as Body Mass Index, along with other health services, such as a dental or eye exams. Musical and dance entertainers add to the excitement of the healthy messaging.
Children get to taste a variety of fruits and vegetables and learn about food systems, including picking out their very own fruits and vegetables at the produce market, through the use of a “seed to table” approach to help increase fruit and vegetable consumption in young children and their families.
- GROW: A garden station that demonstrates how fruits and vegetables are grown and allows young children the opportunity to seed and harvest their own fruits and vegetables, such as a radish.
- TRY: Children are directed to a food demonstration where local chefs prepare fruit and vegetable salads with produce that includes items being harvested, such as a radish salad.
- BUY: Finally, children are provided the opportunity, using pretend coins “Healthy Bucks”, to purchase their own choice of fruits and vegetables including the highlighted seed-to-table item, such radishes for sale.
The prevalence of childhood obesity has dramatically increased nationwide. Specifically, 31.5 percent ages 4-6 in Nevada are obese or overweight (CDC 2014). The underlying causes of obesity range from genetic propensity to socioeconomic, cultural and environmental influences resulting in unhealthy physical activity and eating practices. A person’s relationship with physical activity and food begins in infancy and is molded during childhood. The Healthy Kids Festival employs the environmental change approach to address childhood obesity at the community level.