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New national curriculum aims to teach kids healthy lifestyle habits

Dr. Sapna Parikh has the story
November 8, 2013 2:29:36 PM PST
It's a larger than life lesson on keeping your body healthy, complete with a giant pumping heart and 16-foot brain.

This interactive exhibit at the Children's Museum of Manhattan is called EatSleepPlay, and it's the inspiration for a new educational curriculum called EatPlayGrow.

"We have field tested the curriculum throughout New York City, South Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem, and also New Orleans," said Andy Ackerman, director of the Children's Museum of Manhattan.

And now, for the first time, it's being launched nationally. EatPlayGrow is one of the first programs designed for children under six-years-old.

"One of the unique things about the curriculum is it uses the arts to really engage people so there's dance, movement, music, and visual arts," Andy said.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the curriculum features 11 lessons, ranging from healthy portion sizes to healthy beverages.

"I was experimenting with songs and singing how many cups of water are in orange juice, soda, and seltzer water," said five- ("and three-quarters") year-old Lauren.

The entire curriculum is free and available online. The Chairman of the NYC Housing Authority, John Rhea, says they're already using it in East Harlem.

"Through the NYCHA Office of Public/Private Partnerships, we're expanding this curriculum into other public housing locations over time," John said.

And the entire curriculum can be downloaded by parents. We know the only way to make healthy changes is if the entire family does it together. Every lesson has activities for families.

Program leaders say the next step is to get the curriculum into community centers, museums, and Head Start programs nationwide.

"I wanted to tell you that I saw the heart, and the heart was a muscle," said 6-year-old Jonah, explaining what he'd learned.

The hope is that early lessons will create a lifetime of healthy habits.

To download the curriculum for free, please visit http://www.cmom.org/eatplaygrow_curriculum

And for more resources on the program, please visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/tools-resources/eatplaygrow.htm

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