Panhandle Health District (PHD) will launch an ambitious program designed to reduce childhood obesity in the five northern counties in Shoshone County this week.
The Idaho Community Foundation granted PHD up to $50,000 a year for three years to teach child care providers how to use the Color Me Healthy program with preschoolers. Color Me Healthy uses color, music and exploration of the five senses to teach young children that healthy foods and physical activity are fun.
Eleven Shoshone County child care providers will be the first of up to 155 providers throughout the five northern counties to train over the next three years in the evidence-based program used in more than 50,000 child care sites nationwide.
The first free training is scheduled for Wednesday, September 12, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Shoshone Medical Center Health and Education Building in Smelterville.
Participants will receive a Color Me Healthy kit complete with instructional materials, colorful posters, activity ideas, recipes and parent newsletters filled with ideas for nutritious snacks and fun activities.
Child care providers in Idaho are required to have at least four hours of continuing education each year to maintain licensure. Providers who participate in the free Color Me Healthy training will earn two credits from the IdahoSTARS Professional Development System toward that requirement.
“Providers can put Color Me Healthy into practice with their preschoolers right after the training,” said Lisa Gardom, PHD’s Color Me Healthy program coordinator.
To expand the effort to reduce childhood obesity into a community project, some Shoshone County grocers have agreed to highlight fruits and vegetables that correspond to the Color Me Healthy color of the week. PHD is working with supermarkets, hospitals, pediatricians’ offices, the media and more to spread the word about the value of nutritious food and physical activity.
A recent Idaho Department of Health and Welfare study found 29 percent of Idaho’s children are overweight or obese, based on a comparison of BMIs (body mass index) on a sex- and age-specific growth chart.