People across the nation are reading and moving this summer. Following the lead of United We Serve and the First Lady, Americans are dedicating themselves to becoming active and engaged mentally and physically. Some are joining and creating summer learning programs, others are getting involved in summer sports activities, and many are planting and growing gardens.
Green Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides free environmental education resources for K-12 classrooms and youth groups throughout the country, is leading the charge in turning kids on to eating healthily, while developing sustainable habits of environmental stewardship. They are successfully coupling standards-based curricula with hands-on activity in meaningful “Eco-Challenges.”
Green Education Foundation has already mobilized millions of students to get their hands dirty. This is why United We Serve: Let’s Read. Let’s Move. has joined with GEF to bring to you the Green Thumb Challenge. UWS and GEF are challenging youth nationwide to work with new and existing garden programs to plant 10,000 youth gardens across the country. This unique challenge seeks to connect youth to nature through outdoor hands-on learning opportunities, provide educators with free K-12 standards-based lessons that link the classroom to the garden, and provide a one-stop online resource for step-by-step gardening instructions aimed at beginners.
The relationship between students and gardening can improve habits of health and nutrition while addressing hunger issues. Organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Boy Scouts of America, along with Farm to School and Junior Master Gardeners, are helping Green Education Foundation and United We Serve bring youngsters to gardening and better lifestyles.
After spending time cultivating their community gardens children commented on the effective ways gardening has fostered team work and built responsibility with the added benefit of interacting with nature. Additionally, the kids noticed the difference between produce naturally grown from their yard compared with store bought produce grown with the aid of chemicals. But mostly students liked taking the gardening challenge because, as a 5th grader at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Tulsa, Oklahoma said, she gets to have her “own garden and a class garden. Plus I get to share with others. It is really fun to do, but very hard work. That’s what I like about it, all the work!! It’s worth it after you have that beautiful garden. Plus it taught me many things since I’ve been there, like patience and knowledge.”