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News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, February 20, 2014
Island Childcare recognized for promoting healthy eating and active living

Stonington, Maine Island Childcare Center

Children play with hula hoops at Island Childcare in Stonington. Such outdoor activity is part of the daycare’s efforts to promote healthy activity and prevent childhood obesity. Those efforts were recognized recently by the Let’s Go! program.

Photo courtesy of Island Childcare

by Jessica Brophy

Five fruits and veggies a day, two hours or less of recreational screen time, one hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks.

These are the recommendations of the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program, a statewide initiative to “reinforce the importance of healthy eating and physical activity,” according to the program website.

Training has been offered to many schools, preschools and other childcare sites. Haley McDonald, owner of Island Childcare of Stonington, attended training in Ellsworth on the new program for a year.

Late last year, McDonald received notification that Island Childcare was designated a Gold-Level Site of Distinction, a label bestowed upon early childhood education sites that implement the strategies in writing and in practice.

“We made some changes to our written policies and practices,” said McDonald.

Some of these include making sure celebrations include healthy food and limited sweets, no sugary drinks—only milk and water, and keeping children active.

“We are outside whenever we can be,” said McDonald, who said the daycare even bought 20 pairs of rain pants so that kids could play outside on rainy days without getting their clothes wet and dirty.

Other strategies promoted by the Let’s Go! program include providing non-food rewards to children and encouraging parents to make healthier food choices for children. The strategies align with the Center for Disease Control and the Institute of Medicines’ strategies for preventing childhood obesity.