Georgia Magazine - July 2012 - (Page 34)

A teaching garden for kids By Lynn CouLter I magine watching an overweight child who loves candy bars snacking on her first handful of fresh blueberries, or a boy with diabetes munching ripe cherry tomatoes, straight off the vine. The doctors and staff of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), at Scottish Rite Hospital, witness such sights almost every day, and they’re delighted that young patients and their parents are enjoying the fresh fruits and vegetables growing outside the hospital’s lobby entrance. But making a difference in the health and wellness of Georgia’s children is what really excites them. The garden at Scottish Rite is part of Strong4Life, a statewide initiative launched by CHOA last June, to promote good nutrition and physical ac- tivity to Georgia families. “Georgia has the second-highest rate of childhood obesity in the country,” says Linda The garden at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta offers kid-sized Matzigkeit, chief adminis- tools and a potting table, so patients and visitors can take a tration officer for CHOA. small plant home with them. Farmer D and the Healthcare “Nearly 40 percent are staff hope to inspire a young generation of gardeners. overweight or obese. That’s about a million kids.” The good news is that efforts like The problem, Matzigkeit says, is Strong4Life are helping raise awaredue to sedentary lifestyles and poor ness about healthful eating. eating habits. Teaching stations located in the “It’s a crisis in our state,” she says. garden help children and their fami“We’re seeing more and more kids lies learn about nutrition. Members coming into the hospital with Type of the CHOA staff, including child 2 diabetes, heart disease and hyper- life and rehabilitation specialists, are tension. These are more prevalent in also being trained to give talks and teenagers, but we’re starting to see lead activities, so they can take visithem earlier, even in the tors through the 3- to 5-year-old range.” garden and let them pick tomatoes, strawberries or whatever is growing. “Everything is identified with signs,” Matzigkeit says. “And touching is encouraged. We have thyme, rosemary and other herbs to smell and touch. Kids can also help plant. We want them to play in the dirt, so we reinforce the message of eating fresh fruits and vegetables from the earth.” CHOA partnered with Farmer D Organics, an environmentally friendly garden company based in Atlanta, to help create the teaching garden. While the garden is meant to teach and be enjoyed, it also serves to celebrate the lives of Daron Joffe, a native of South the many young patients who have been treated at the hospital, as well as their dedicated Africa, is the “Farmer D” in the comcaregivers. Inset: Cool season flowers and crops are replaced as the temperatures rise and pany name, and he’s known by that the plants begin to decline. The garden is constantly harvested, Farmer D says, and produce nickname. He’s a 30-something “ecois given away to patients’ families and those who work in the garden. 34 More online at GEORGIA MAGAZINE COURTESY OF CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA COURTESY OF CHILDREN’S HEALTHCARE OF ATLANTA AND FARMER D ORGANICS Strong4Life gardens promote good nutrition

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - July 2012

Georgia Magazine - July 2012
Liberty Notes
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar of Events
Georgia’s Energy Outlook
Unveiling a Healthier Georgia
A Soldier’s Wish
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia Gardens
Georgia Cooks

Georgia Magazine - July 2012