At any age, a nutritious diet and exercise are essential for good health.
Some Trenton preschool children are getting an early start to a life of healthy eating and physical activity thanks to lessons they are learning from Rutgers University‒Camden nursing school students.
This semester, juniors at the Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden are teaching health-promoting behaviors to low-income children in the preschool program at the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of Mercer County in Trenton.
“It’s a good community experience for us because our students get to see kids in a healthy environment,” says Kathie Prihoda, a Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden clinical assistant professor who oversees the nursing school’s partnership with the CYO. She is also a member of the CYO board and the organization’s health council.
Three days a week, the Rutgers University–Camden students spend the day at the preschool, teaching the children about health and safety issues, including mindfulness, simple yoga positions, dental hygiene, and proper hand-washing to prevent the spread of germs.
To promote healthy food choices, the lunch served at the school follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “My Plate” guidelines for a balanced diet of fruits, grains, vegetables, and protein. Lunch includes healthy foods some students have never eaten, such as green beans. To encourage students to try foods that are new to them, teachers ask the students to take two bites of the food.
“Even the ones that didn’t finish it, they all tried it,” says Kate Ormsby, a junior Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden student from Maple Shade.