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At eleven years old, Joshua Williams became the youngest recipient ever of the White House Champions of Change Award. Since he was five years old, Joshua has been passionate about feeding others, and through persistence and the help of family members, has been able to accomplish his dream of helping others. He started Joshua’s Heart Foundation to help end food insecurity in his community.
Every week, Joshua’s Heart Foundation distributes food to about 50 families. They also support a backpack program, where they offer food to children for times when they are not in school. Joshua tries to educate others, both within his local community and nationally, about hunger, and what they can do to help.
(Photo credit: Joshua's Heart Foundation)
While Joshua’s first priority is to end hunger, he also stresses the importance of healthy eating. The foundation frequently receives discounted or free foods from their local Whole Foods grocery store, and has paired with the grocery chain to teach people how to cook healthy foods and to distribute healthy recipes. By offering cooking classes, the foundation shows families how to prepare the foods they receive in a healthy way.
Joshua is an inspiration to us all and shows that no matter what your age, you can impact your community and help others. Not only has Joshua been able to help feed families in need, he has also inspired other kids in his community to get involved. In fact, Joshua’s Heart Foundation’s senior advisory board is mostly made up of kids, with only a few adults to help.
One of the main goals of the First Lady and Let’s Move! is to increase access to proper nutrition. More than 23 million Americans—including 6.5 million children—live in “food deserts," which are low-income urban and rural neighborhoods that are more than a mile away from a supermarket. Both within and outside of government, individuals across the country have made efforts to increase their community’s access to healthful foods.
Learn more about food deserts and increasing access by checking out the Food Desert Locator. You can start addressing these issues in your own community by starting a community or school garden, and get involved in other Let's Move! programs.
Halloween can be for the whole family, but most of the treats collected as kids trick or treat aren’t exactly the healthiest choices. Although a few pieces of candy are fine, one study by the University of Alabama-Birmingham estimates that the average kid may accumulate 3,500 to 7,000 calories worth of treats on Halloween night. Forget needing a scary costume -- those numbers are frightening in themselves!
Children from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools participate in Halloween festivities at the North Portico of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
It is possible to make Halloween fun for kids, without going overboard on the sweets:
1. Fill up before you head out: Give your kids a healthy meal before they go trick-or-treating. They’ll be less likely to eat all the sweets they collect throughout the evening.
2. Hand out healthier alternatives to candy: Offer trick-or-treaters fun, hand-sized fruit (like clementines or mini apples) and trail mix. Tie a ribbon around the treats to make them look festive and fun.
3. Instead of food, offer trick or treaters cool toys: Stickers and glow sticks are always popular, and this year you can even give out coupons for the computer game Plants vs. Zombies—the American Dental Association is offering the coupons for free as part of their Stop Zombie Mouth campaign. Many kids will enjoy these toys just as much as a candy bar, plus they’ll last longer.
4. Add some physical activity to the night: Encourage your children to walk from house to house instead of driving them. Start up a friendly competition to see who can get to the most houses and walk the farthest.
5. Teach your kids moderation: Let them enjoy a few pieces of candy, but not all of it. Put the rest out of sight so your children are not constantly reminded that it's there.
Giving young kids the best start to life is not just about teaching them the ABCs but helping them learn healthy habits, too. Check out how one teacher gets the young learners in her in-home preschool healthy at an early age:
Activities like yoga and eating healthy snacks are great habits for little ones while they’re in child care and also at home.
Ready to teach young kids in your life healthy habits? Check out five ideas from Let’s Move! Child Care to get you started, below.
To find more ways to help your preschooler eat well, be active, and be healthy, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Helping children learn healthy habits early, through child care and early education programs, is critical to solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Let's Move! Child Care is a voluntary initiative to empower child care and early education providers to meet 5 goals: increasing physical activity, reducing screen time, improving food choices, providing healthy beverages, and supporting breastfeeding.
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