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Gardening with kids: Tips and advice for starting an active and healthy habit

Introducing gardening, and the healthy foods that result from gardening, gives youth a better chance of become healthy eaters later in life. (Thinkstock)

Hoai-Tran Bui, special to wtop.com

WASHINGTON – For adults, gardening can be one of the most rewarding activities of summer. However, getting kids to enjoy the same activity may present challenges for some parents and caregivers.

With rising levels of childhood obesity, and more youth engaging in increased screen time, sedentary lifestyles in children and adolescents is concerning. But gardening may offer the perfect middle ground between a fun, outdoor activity and a pastime that offers exercise and promotes healthy habits.

“We see gardening as being a holistic activity for youth,” says Julie Parker- Dickerson, the director of youth education programs at the National Gardening Association. “You can garden in a very small space, you can do it in an urban space, you can do it in containers.”

Gardening with Kids, a subset of the National Gardening Association, emphasizes the role of gardening in the formative years of children. The organization uses gardening to teach students about science and nature, and it strengthens their connection with nature, in general.

“Anyone around kids can see the difference it makes for them to have time outside in fresh air,” says Sarah Pounders, education specialist at the NGA. “It is relaxing, provides exercise (and) stimulates their senses and minds without being over-stimulating.”

Melinda Kelley, program manager at We Can!


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