By Susan Hildreth
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the federal agency that supports the nation’s libraries and museums. The agency manages Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens.
On Friday I was thrilled to join Sam Kass at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) for the launch of EatPlayGrow™, a new early childhood educational curriculum designed to keep children healthy through creative strategies developed specifically for families with very young children. (And equally thrilled to see the IMLS-funded exhibition EatSleepPlay™ at CMOM!)
The curriculum helps children develop lifelong healthy habits. National Institutes of Health nutritionists provided guidance, and the entire curriculum was reviewed by federal scientific experts to ensure that the information is accurate and consistent with national dietary and physical activity guidelines.
At the event, Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass said, “Recent studies, like the CDC’s report that obesity rates are dropping among low-income preschool children in 19 states, show that the tide is turning with regard to childhood obesity. These findings are encouraging, but we know that we need to keep working to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity. EatPlayGrow™ is an example of what the First Lady has called on all of us to do: use collaboration, creativity, and hard work to give all our children the skills they need to grow up healthy and able to pursue their dreams.”
In addition to the curriculum, CMOM and NIH staff will provide professional development training for childcare providers, health practitioners, teachers, and parents. A wonderful aspect of the curriculum is that it includes lots of literacy learning so it is easy to implement during the pre-school day and contains lessons for use at home. What a great way to connect home, school and the museum!
These training sessions will also be made available as a webinar. EatPlayGrow™ will be disseminated nationwide through community anchors such as libraries, museums, and community centers.
CMOM tested the EatPlayGrow™ curriculum in museums, community centers, and Head Start sites in New York City and New Orleans and found that
- curbing childhood obesity should be started as early as possible, most notably within the family;
- using the arts and other creative efforts combined with evidence-based information can affect behavior change; and that
- this message should reach families through multiple touch points within their community.
The curriculum can be downloaded free of charge at www.nih.gov/wecan and www.cmom.org and is also available through the Association of Children’s Museums, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, First Book, and the Family Place Libraries.
CMOM has applied the expertise of museums in reaching diverse audiences and using the arts as a transformative power. The museum is focused on an issue of deep concern to families, to communities, and to our nation. By sharing this curriculum nationwide many more museums, libraries, childcare centers, and families will make this magic happen in their communities.