In the Fall of 2012, Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania kicked off an initiative called Healthy Promise, after looking for a creative way to motivate their 37,000 girl and adult members to eat well and be active. Healthy Promise is this council’s way of empowering girls to make better decisions about what they eat and how they can keep their bodies strong.
The core curriculum, developed in partnership with the Susan P. Byrnes Health Education Center in York, Pennsylvania, identifies at least six weeks of activities that girls are encouraged to complete while meeting in small groups or troops. The curriculum incorporates the USDA’s MyPlate into lessons about the foods groups, nutrition labels, and of course smart shopping. Other lessons suggest physical activities girls can do to increase their heart rates and build their muscles.
Healthy Promise launched in October 2012 with an appearance by Jill Jayne, Rockstar Nutritionist, along with over 500 girls and adults who all vowed to “Make a Healthy Promise” that day. They got to sing and dance with Jill, play soccer or softball, run the track, and climb a rock wall. Also in attendance were Field Trip Factory and a nutritionist from GIANT and Martin’s Food Stores, who were on hand to inform participants about Kid Healthy Ideas, a free in-store Field Trip that reinforces the Healthy Promise curriculum.
The Girl Scouts Leadership Experience and the Healthy Promise curricula encourage girls to get out into the community and teach others what they’re learning as Girl Scouts. Visiting a grocery store to explore food options broadens the girls’ understanding of where food comes from and enables them to make smart food choices for themselves, their families, and their friends. Once they understand the benefits of eating well and being active, girls can take what they know “To Go!”
Girl Scouts around the country can also make a difference in their neighborhoods. For example, using the MyPlate as a nutritional learning tool, Girls can plan well balanced meals that contain items from each of the four food groups. A visit to their local grocery store to buy the ingredients and learn about other less familiar items is a great way to reinforce these lessons. Food brings people together; girls can have fun making meals as a group and then share them with family and friends, whereby inspiring a healthy community.
Lori Albert McCracken
Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania