Sample Success Story
Elementary Students Garden Their Way to Healthier Eating
Nancy Stewart, a nurse in the elementary school of Pauline Glenn-Springs in Spartanburg County, became more and more concerned as she watched the poor eating habits and the lack of physical activity among her 459 students. She and other teachers were called to action when three of the students under age 10 developed Type I diabetes. Statistics states that if current trends continue, 30 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls born in 2000 will develop Type 2 diabetes, primarily due to a poor diet and lack of physical activity. To counteract this problem, the school decided it was time to promote and encourage healthy eating and physical activity.
The Pauline Glenn -Springs Youth Advisory Committee, a group of third through sixth graders, decided that beginning the PGS Healthy Harvesters gardening project would be a creative way to encourage healthy eating and exercise. Thanks to funds from All-Health Team and Department of Agriculture, the PGS Healthy Harvesters were able to expand their on-site herb garden to include a vegetable garden.
- Students learned about all aspects of gardening: fertilizer, planting seasons, and maintenance;
- Healthy eating tips were shared with students and parents on school morning show, Web sites, and newsletters; and
- Tasting tests were held to expose students to various fruits and vegetables.
The students’ knowledge of gardening has expanded greatly. The project’s success has allowed them to be featured on WIS-10, The Spartanburg Herald, South Carolina Market Bulletin, and the Department of Agriculture Blog. The exposure has spread the awareness of their project and increased their community support. Some of the impact that have been made are:
- At least a 50% increase in healthier snacks being brought to school by students;
- A number of families and faculty members planting a garden at home; and
- An increase in the donations and support for the garden from parents and community members.
The success of the PGS Healthy Harvesters have prompted them to expand the garden next year to include more vegetables, a strawberry patch and to plant shrubs and bushes to enhance pollination. The school plans to reach into the community and share their crops with the small local nursing home and the Boys Home.
Joann Moton Minder, Health Communications
Saint Julian Place, Columbia SC 29204