HOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — Today one local medical office decided to practice what it preaches by promoting wellness through participation and action.
Holyoke Pediatric Associates, along with students from Holyoke Community College, have opened a garden outside their practice’s Holyoke office, and their fresh new vision could have kids eating fresh too.
Getting kids to eat healthy has been a challenge for years.
“Right now as your probably aware we have an epidemic of obesity going on and a part of that has to do with food choices that kids are making. And this is a way to teach children what healthy foods are, what they look like when they grow,” explained Dr. Paula Condon, a pediatrician with Holyoke Pediatric Associates.
It’s been a year of planning, but today at Holyoke Pediatric Associates, children got to see healthy foods in a new way.
“We wanted to try to encourage kids to eat healthy, live healthy, and we thought one way that would make it easy for them to see and to understand was to actually see these beautiful vegetables growing in the garden,” Condon continued.
For many children, it might be their first time in a garden.
“Kids don’t know where their food comes from. They think food grows at the local grocery store, and they have no idea what it looks like when it’s in the field. And this was an idea to get the kids to touch and feel and be able to walk in,” explained Master Gardener Hugh McBride.
But the hope with this new garden is that those kids will pick items from the patch, and enjoy the experience as much as they enjoy the food.
“When their actually doing the work, they love it. And it’s something that’s inherent in them,” said HCC student Leigh-Ellen Figueroa. “Actually getting kids into a garden, letting them plant the seeds, letting them see that grow, has a really powerful impact. More powerful than telling kids, you should eat something healthy.”
Dr. Paula Condon says that patients are invited to pick their own veggies from the garden before or after their visit.
The hope is that the children will take them home, taste them, love them and request those healthy foods on their next trip to the grocery store.