North Carolina’s early education initiative, Smart Start, recently announced it is partnering with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation to improve physical activity and nutrition in child care centers statewide. The state ranks fifth in the nation for childhood obesity.
As the Charlotte News-Observer reports, the three-year, $3 million effort will reach 5,000 child care centers. Trained local experts will work long-term with the centers to help them improve nutrition, play facilities, and physical and outdoor activities with children in their care.
The effort, known as Shape NC, will build on Smart Start’s existing outreach effort, NAP SACC (Nutrition and Physical Activity Self Assessment for Child Care Centers). Through NAP SACC, state-trained consultants help child care staff develop strategies to increase children’s physical activity and the nutritional content of their meals. An evaluation of the program found more than half the centers involved increased children’s physical activity by providing more active play time and better equipment. They improved kids’ nutrition by offering more lean meats and whole grains in meals and switching from juice to water for drinks.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.