The Buffalo Niagara American Heart Association and Wegmans kicked-off the sponsorship of the first American Heart Association Teaching Garden in Niagara Falls at Cataract Elementary School, 6431 Girard Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY 14304, today, May 29th from 9 a.m.- 12 noon. The Pre-K assembly began at 9:15 a.m. and Grades 3-6 assembled at 10:00 a.m. After the assembly’s representatives from each class gathered in the courtyard to plant the garden. For the first time Niagara Falls students now have firsthand experience with an American Heart Association Teaching Garden which includes parsley, bell peppers, squash, tomatoes, basil and cucumbers.
The Teaching Garden was created using American Heart Association science and nutrition guidelines coupled with information from gardening and education experts. The program combines nutrition education with garden based learning. It is a real-life laboratory where students nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits. Gardening is at the heart of learning in the classroom as well as outside the classroom, where students can share what they learned at home, with family members and friends.
“At Wegmans, we are committed to helping our customers and employees live healthier, better lives through food, and that starts with our youngest customers. Children will learn about where their food comes from, the importance of healthy eating so that they create healthy habits that can last a lifetime,” stated Michele Mehaffy, Buffalo Consumer Affairs Manager at Wegmans Food Market.
Studies have shown that participation in school garden programs can have a positive impact on students’ attitudes toward fruits and vegetables. Cataract Elementary staff are excited for this unique teaching opportunity. They know healthy kids have proven to perform higher.
“We at Cataract Elementary are thrilled to be partnering with the American Heart Association and Wegmans. The teaching garden offers a hands-on opportunity for learning that spans math, natural science, the arts and beyond,” said Jeff Showers, Principal, Cataract Elementary School.
“With one third of U.S. children either overweight or obese, we have to take positive steps to ensure they are not at a higher risk of heart disease or stroke,” said Shannon Traphagen, Associate Publisher of Buffalo Healthy Living Magazine, and Board Chair of Buffalo Niagara American Heart Association. Shannon added, “Less than 1 percent of U.S. children consume the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables. School gardens have the potential to decrease barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption including cost, availability and acceptance.”
For more information on starting an American Heart Association Teaching Garden in your school, contact Michelle Mason at the Buffalo Niagara American Heart Association office #716-243-4607. Visit www.heart.org/teachinggarden or follow us on Twitter @WNYHeart.