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Health & Nutrition

The Community Health & Wellness Department provides South Florida early childhood education providers with health and wellness education, resources and materials in an effort to create healthier educational and home environments for children. Through a community-based, collaborative approach, and innovative programs that teach and promote healthy best practices, the Community Health & Wellness Department is committed to promoting and advocating for the health and well-being of children from birth to 8 years old. Currently, our programs focus on childhood obesity, electronic cigarettes/poison control, firearm safety, and safe sleep.

“Health care is an important factor in early education and lifelong success.  We must encourage early care and education programs to incorporate physical activity and other essential life skills into the curriculum so they become second-nature for children and families.”

Evelio Torres, President & CEO, Early learning Coalition of Miami-Dade Monroe

Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a national epidemic.  In the United States, nearly one in three children and adolescents are either overweight or obese.  In Florida, among low-income children aged 2 to 5 years old, 14.8% are overweight and 13.4% are obese.  The Community Health & Wellness Department combats this epidemic through the following childhood obesity prevention programs:

Let’s Move! Child Care/Nemours National Early Care & Education Learning Collaboratives (ECELC)

The ECELC project is a childhood obesity prevention project that is funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention; managed by the Nemours National Office of Policy & Prevention; and implemented by the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe (ELC).  The project is part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Child Care initiative. The ECELC project’s curriculum, Taking Steps to Healthy Success (TSHS), is delivered to low-income Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers in five (5) Learning Sessions over the course of 10 months, with on-site technical assistance being provided between sessions. During this time ECE centers are taught how to implement best practices in Physical Activity, Nutrition, Family-Style Dining, Reduced Screen Time, and Breastfeeding Support within their programs.  Upon successful completion of the project, participants receive a $500 stipend in appreciation of their time, hard work and dedication to children’s health, as well as CEU’s and In-Service hours. Success is measured through pre/post assessments and policy change conducted by an independent evaluator.  To date, more than 1,300 teachers from 275 ECE centers located in high poverty zip codes in Miami-Dade & Broward counties have completed 30 hours of training on how to create a healthier environment in their classrooms.

Early Childhood Education Structured Physical Activity Project

Funded by the Health Foundation of South Florida, the Structured Physical Activity Project is a childhood obesity prevention project designed to provide low-income Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers with the knowledge, tools and resources needed to conduct 60 minutes daily of structured physical activity with their preschoolers. Utilizing the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) curriculum, participants learn about structured physical activity, nutrition, gardening, physical activity adaptations for students with special needs, and other physical activity management tools for working with this age group. In addition to center-based training, the project provides each center with 2 hours of follow-up on-site technical assistance; 2 hour family training workshops per center; portable indoor/outdoor play equipment; an activity Box with over 500 activities and picture cards and 2 music CDs; and CEUs for all participants.   Success is measured through pre/post assessments, policy change, and an on-site observational assessment conducted by an independent evaluator.  To date, 111 ECE centers located in high poverty zip codes in Miami-Dade & Broward counties have completed 6 hours of training on how to conduct 60 minutes daily of Structured Physical Activity with their preschoolers. 

Safe Sleep, E-Cigarettes/Poison Control, and Firearm Safety

In an effort to create and promote healthy and safe environments within Early Childhood Education (ECE) settings and the homes of their families, the Community Health & Wellness Department has embarked on a an education campaign to prevent sleep related, e-cigarettes, poison control, and firearm safety injuries and deaths.  The campaign provides ECE providers and their families with trainings, educational materials and resources geared toward raising awareness about, and preventing the risks associated with these health concerns.  We accomplish this through the dissemination of informational/educational materials, publication of community-based newsletter articles, social media postings, and quarterly provider trainings.

For more information contact:

Wil Ayala

Director of Community Health & Wellness Programs & Policy Analysis

Work: 305.646.7220 x2510

Cell: 786.566.7401