McLeod CDC staff members have already noticed healthy changes in the children with the initial stages of their new play space.
In 2015, the McLeod Child Development Center (CDC) became one of only five child care centers in South Carolina chosen to participate in Preventing Obesity by Design.
This research-based program designs outdoor environments to promote physical activity and healthy nutrition. The project is benefiting from support of the McLeod Health Foundation as well as McLeod CDC staff members and parents.
“Recent studies show alarming rates of diabetes, obesity, and hypertension among children in Florence County,” said Flicka Mcbratney, Administrator of the McLeod CDC. “As a child care center, we have an opportunity to improve the health of children living in our region and help them establish healthy practices for life.”
Installation of the new play space will take place in several phases. Two initial areas were completed in Summer 2015, including a performance stage and productive garden. The McLeod CDC staff have already noticed increased physical activity in the children and an interest in healthy nutrition.
“The performance stage allows for constant movement, and the children love using the space for dancing, cheering, and other activities,” said Mcbratney. “The children also gained firsthand knowledge of growing their own fruits and vegetables. They thoroughly enjoyed picking and consuming the fresh produce from their garden.”
Thanks to generous donors to the McLeod Health Foundation, the McLeod CDC has installed a concrete primary pathway which connects each of the activity areas and serves as an anchor and entrance to the space. The sand area and part of the music area have been completed as well as an infant sensory garden and an herb garden managed by the preschool classes. There are six raised beds that are growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, watermelon, pole beans, eggplant, cabbage and snap peas.
“We look forward to the many benefits of this outdoor environment such as instilling healthy habits and attitudes in our children and connecting them to nature,” added Mcbratney.
Upon completion of the project, the McLeod CDC will serve as a demonstration site, offering training to other child care providers across the state.