Sesame Street Live characters recently visited the Early Learning Center, encouraging students and staff to stay active.

Let's Move! winner

UD's Early Learning Center recognized for children's activities


9:43 a.m., May 10, 2012--By the age of six, one in five children in the U.S. is categorized as overweight or obese. To help address this national crisis, Michele Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative has targeted child care centers as a key partner in addressing childhood obesity.

On May 9, the University of Delaware's Early Learning Center (ELC) was recognized as a top program in the category of Early Education and Child Care Programs and Networks for its creative strategies in engaging families, overcoming challenges to get children moving and encouraging healthy eating in the early care and education setting.

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Serving approximately 300 children ages birth through five in Newark and Wilmington, the ELC has initiated a number of multidisciplinary programs from across the University to develop healthy habits:

  • Community nursing students provide learning experiences for preschool children that focus on MyPlate activities, which are then reinforced during family style breakfasts and lunches.
  • Faculty from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources work with teachers and children to create vegetable gardens that are used for hands-on learning.
  • Exercise science and physical therapy students create and model implementation of lessons designed to increase children’s physical activity.

The ELC is also committed to engaging families to implement the goals of Let’s Move! Child Care. Parents are provided nutrition information, recipes and resources to help them make changes at home. Through a partnership with the Christiana Health Care System, the center has offered Moving Moms Forward, a weekly program that provides healthy meals, lessons on healthy eating and an hour of physical activity. And families are kept up to date on upcoming events, workshops and resources in the community.

Lynn Okagaki, dean for the College of Education and Human Development, strongly supports the center’s integrated initiatives. “Tackling the challenges of obesity requires a multipronged approach. By bringing together programs from across the University, the ELC serves as a catalyst for developing coordinated, multidisciplinary approaches that support the healthy development of all children,” she said.

Peg Bradley, director of the Early Learning Center, said she sees these activities as a natural and integral part of the ELC's mission -- maximizing children’s potential for success.  “By modeling these practices for the hundreds of future teachers who learn and work in our centers, we multiply the impact of this initiative many times over.”

The Let's Move! Child Care recognition luncheon, sponsored by Nemours, took place on May 9 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.  Let’s Move! Child Care is supported by public and private partners, including the Office of the First Lady, White House Domestic Policy Council, Administration for Children and Families, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, Nemours, Child Care Aware of America and University of North Carolina. 

For more information about Let’s Move! Child Care, visit the website

Article by Alison Burris

Photo by Ambre Alexander

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