MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

September 21, 2013

Smart Start to work with early childhood programs in Muskogee


— Smart Start Muskogee is collaborating with local early childhood programs to promote positive health and nutrition outcomes.

Children’s health is at the center of their overall development and good nutrition is a vital part of school readiness, according to a media release.

In Muskogee, children are learning not only the importance of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet, but also how to grow them, the release states.

Smart Start Muskogee Coordinator Susan Savage works with teachers and administrators of early childhood programs to provide soil, plants and gardening tools for small-plot garden projects that will start in the spring.

Children at Muskogee Public School’s Early Childhood Learning Center are working on a fall garden with help from Smart Start. Children at Eastar Child Development Center continue to reap the benefits of this year’s garden, provided through Smart Start, along with parent donations.

Doug Walton, coordinator of Muskogee’s Food and Fitness Initiative, helps as a consultant to Smart Start Muskogee.

“To reduce childhood obesity, it is very important that children learn to enjoy healthy foods from a very young age,” Walton said in the release. “Vegetable gardening is a great way to get children excited about eating nutritiously. When kids have a role in growing something, it’s incredible how interested they become in eating what they’ve grown. You can’t stop those kids from eating the leaf lettuce or broccoli or just about anything they’ve planted and watered and harvested.”

Smart Start Muskogee is a program supported by and located within Green Country Behavioral Health Services (GCBHS). Through this program, GCBHS expands its agency wellness program out into the community, with collaborations across many Muskogee agencies.

Information: (918) 913-3662.