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Growing A Healthier Future – Children To Learn Gardening Skills And More At Farmington Program

By Beth Cassidy
Enterprise Record

FARMINGTON – A new after-school program designed to grow healthier children won’t just be educational, it will be fun, according to Laura Mathis, executive director of Farmington Community Center.
Growing a Healthier Future will focus on helping children become healthier by providing resources and fun activities geared toward making healthy choices, said Mathis.
The first session of the free program will begin in August and end in November, with the second session beginning in March and ending in June. It will run from 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday (on days when school is in session), and parents can choose whether to send their children every day or on certain days.
It is open to third through fifth graders throughout the county, including public, private or homeschooled children, and a maximum of 20 students per day will be accepted. Mathis said there will be some transportation from Pinebrook Elementary provided, but parents of other children will need to arrange transportation.
On arrival at the community center in historic Farmington, children will receive a healthy snack, one that they will occasionally have an opportunity to help prepare.
“They will be encouraged to try new fruits and vegetables and to prepare healthy snacks at home.”
The children will then have time to play outside, enjoy hands-on activities in the garden and learn gardening skills they can use throughout their lives. There will be nature walks and activities to help them learn about wildlife and natural resources, utilizing the 65-acre land on which the Farmington Nature Park is being constructed. Mathis said they have guests planned who will teach the children about resources and wildlife in the nature park, about soil, plants and bugs in the garden, and about healthy habits such as taking care of teeth, eyes, ears and skin.
In the spring session, the children will participate in planting a vegetable garden.
“We will encourage parents to bring their students back in the summer, once the program has ended, and work with the kids in the garden. They will be able to take some of the produce home to share with the family, encouraging them to eat healthier too. The more this reaches back to the family, the more impact it will have,” she said.
Mathis becomes more animated the more she talks about the possibilities within the program, because she is passionate about re-introducing a way of life to the children that she enjoyed as a child …