Healthy Can Be Fun

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2014

FARMINGTON – Growing a Healthier Future means growing healthy young bodies and minds, and those are two of the goals of the free after-school program open to children in grades three through five.

Laura Mathis, executive director of the Farmington Community Center, where the program is held, said enrollment is open for the spring session March 3-May 30 from 3-6 p.m.

“The program provides kids with activities that encourage them to live healthier lives by teaching them how to grow their own produce, enjoy the outdoors by learning about wildlife, and taking hikes along the Farmington Natural Trail,” Mathis said.

The children will also learn how to prepare healthy foods, including snacks, in the community center’s kitchen, and they will get to enjoy the snacks they prepare.

“The kids are so hungry when they get out of school, and we find it easy to get them to eat fresh fruits and veggies and try new things,” Mathis said. “They would gladly fill up on junk food if they had the chance, so it’s nice to be able to provide them with healthier choices.”

One of the features is gardening. Mathis said she decided to break up the larger garden they used last year into plots, and the children will be in charge of planting seeds and watching them grow into plants. Last year’s favorites were okra and zucchini, she said.

“We’ll start the plants in the greenhouse, and the children will learn how to plan and plant in small spaces, and we’re even going to have a little fun planting a fairy garden,” she said.

They will adopt some spring chicks to learn about raising poultry.

Last year, there were visits by an optometrist to teach the children about taking care of their eyes, and a dental hygienist, to teach them how to care for their teeth. Mathis said the spring programs will be similar.

On days when the weather doesn’t permit walking along the nature trail or gardening, the children will have fun with indoor activities, including playing in the gym.

The program is open to students in any Davie schools, limited to 20 students, and children can attend every day or only on certain days. Transportation from Pinebrook Elementary is provided, but students from other schools will need other methods of transportation.

Mathis said she is looking for an assistant to help with the program.

“This would be a perfect little part-time job for someone who is retired or maybe a stay-at-home parent who loves to work with children and enjoys working in the garden,” she said.

Those interested in the assistant position or in enrolling their child in the program can contact Mathis at 998-2912. The program’s website is

Additionally, while the program is supported for the most part by the Davie United Way, the Davie County Health Department, and the Cooperative Extension Office, Mathis said donations are always welcome, and volunteers are also needed. Those who apply to volunteer will undergo a background check.