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Summa sponsors AHA Teaching Garden at Schumacher CLC

5/2/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

WEST AKRON — This month, the American Heart Association (AHA) will team up with students, staff and volunteers to unveil a new Teaching Garden at Schumacher Community Learning Center (CLC) with the support of local sponsor Summa Health System.

The American Heart Association Teaching Gardens, founded by Kelly Meyer, is a national, school-based program to re-establish what it means to be healthy, according to AHA officials. Aimed at elementary school students, the Teaching Garden program provides hands-on learning experiences rooted in offering nutritional choices.

“We are thrilled to have been selected to receive an American Heart Association Teaching Garden and thankful for Summa Health System,” said Brandi Davis, principal of Schumacher CLC. “This opportunity gives our children hands-on experience and an interactive nutrition curriculum that can help produce life-long, heart-healthy habits.”

The garden acts as a real-life laboratory where students learn how to plant seeds, nurture the growing plants, harvest the food and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits and the importance of physical activity. According to AHA officials, childhood obesity continues to be one of the nation’s urgent health threats; today, one in three children and adolescents in the United States is overweight or obese.

“The American Heart Association’s Teaching Gardens encourage our next generation to adopt healthy eating habits at an early age. We want all children to understand vegetables come from farms, not grocery stores, and that eating healthy is easier than they might think,” said Alice Luse, regional director with the AHA.

“As a provider of comprehensive cardiac services throughout the region, it’s wonderful for Summa to partner with the American Heart Association and the Akron Public Schools to create a hands-on learning experience for children that can help support a lifetime of heart-healthy habits,” said Roxia Boykin, vice president of community benefit and diversity for Summa Health System.

On May 4, volunteers will gather at the school to build the planter boxes, and on May 16, the school will celebrate its Plant Day with students planting seeds and a dedication of the garden.

As part of the garden creation, Schumacher CLC will receive up to 10 raised planter boxes, and the garden will have space for instructional, storage, watering and compost efforts. Additionally, the school will receive supplemental materials to make the gardening process convenient, such as garden gloves, seed packets, trowels, cultivators, pruners, buckets and a hose. The staff will receive a mini camcorder to help record and share the success of the garden with students, parents, staff and the community.

The teaching garden lessons contain 35 standards-based lessons and activities for grades kindergarten through five. They’re written by teachers for teachers, and they reinforce the messages of good nutrition and eco-literacy through hands-on learning, according to Akron Public Schools officials.

The Teaching Gardens program is part of a larger AHA program, My Heart. My Life. healthy living initiative, designed to help people understand what it means to be healthy and to take action, according to AHA officials. For details on the Teaching Gardens program and how to participate, visit www.heart.org/teachinggardens or call 330-664-1902.

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