AgCenter initiative aims to teach children about healthy living, improve literacy

(11/12/21) BOGALUSA, La. — The LSU AgCenter has launched Healthy Living Literacy, a program that provides children with books and other materials that teach about health, nutrition and gardening.

The program is being offered in St. Tammany and Washington parishes through a partnership with local pediatric clinics. It serves two purposes: to encourage children and their families to read and to make healthier lifestyle choices.

“Childhood literacy programs can benefit families and children, as research shows that when parents are involved in their child’s literacy development, their children are more likely to experience later academic success,” said Valerie Vincent, family and consumer sciences coordinator for the AgCenter Southeast Region. “Many of our youngest residents lack age-appropriate literacy materials at home, and this program provides books and materials at no charge to families that promote healthy living.”

Children can pick up books and other educational items at the START Community Health Center in St. Tammany Parish and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health at Our Lady of the Angels Pediatric Clinic in Washington Parish.

“I am excited for the opportunity to provide a child with perhaps their first book they’ve ever owned,” said Elizabeth Garland, Northshore outreach coordinator for the START Community Health Center. “By us being able to introduce them to books, they will hopefully develop a lifelong love of books.”

“These programs can make a difference in our resident’s lives,” said Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette. “With the pandemic and the storm, having basic items such as books for your children can help make a difference.”

Developing reading skills is important, and it’s also never too early to start educating kids about health topics, said Dr. Katie Queen, a local pediatrician.

“We must begin with nutrition education and health literacy from the earliest age possible so that we can instill healthy behaviors to ensure a healthy weight for life,” she said.

Healthy Living Literacy is an outgrowth of the AgCenter-led Healthy Communities initiative, which unites stakeholders with experts to pursue changes that promote healthier living. Healthy Communities coalitions can be found across Louisiana.

Partners for the literacy effort are the Mayor’s Council for Healthy Lifestyles in Covington, Bogalusa Strong, FOCUS Franklinton and Washington Parish Community Connect.

Other Healthy Communities activities in the Northshore region include a Kids Garden Club, community nutrition workshops and family events with a nutrition and health focus.

Healthy Living literacy group of people.

The LSU AgCenter has launched Healthy Living Literacy, a program that provides children with books about health, nutrition and gardening. Partners on the project include, from left, Valerie Vincent, LSU AgCenter; Brittny Costella, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center; Elizabeth Garland, START Community Health Center; and William Afton, LSU AgCenter. Photo by Olivia Picard/LSU AgCenter

Bogalusa LSU AgCenter literacy group.

Partners on the LSU AgCenter’s new Healthy Living Literacy program include, from left, seated, Dr. Raghubir Mangat, pediatrician; Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette; Dr. Katie Queen, pediatrician; and Angela Lambert, Our Lady of the Angels Hospital. Standing, Christi Mitchell, LSU AgCenter; Rusty Fornea, Washington Parish Council; and Valerie Vincent, LSU AgCenter. Photo by Kay Kay Warner

Healthy Living Literacy infant book.

Andrew, a participant in the Healthy Living Literacy program, smiles while holding a book. Photo by Dr. Katie Queen

Children looking at healthy book.

Bogalusa children enjoy the books from the Healthy Living Literacy program. Photo by Dr. Katie Queen

11/12/2021 9:17:41 PM
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