How are you with deadlines? Do you relish getting a head start on a project or task or do you fall into the procrastination category? Well, if you have been putting off applying for the Smart from the Start Awards, there’s still time! But the March 2 deadline is fast-approaching so if you need a refresher on what the Awards are and what we’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place (or blog, in this case).

The Smart from the Start Awards are designed to encourage preschool teachers and Head Start programs to create practical, long-term improvements in nutrition and physical activity at their preschool. By the end of this school year, Smart from the Start will have awarded 26 grants helping families, community members, students, and faculty make life-changing decisions for a healthier lifestyle. The Awards encourage preschool teachers to design and implement wellness initiatives using the free (again, it’s free!) Smart from the Start Pre-K curriculum in their classrooms. Applicants for the awards submit action plans that improve nutrition and physical activity to jumpstart healthy habits at a young age. You are encouraged to identify your school’s nutrition and physical activity needs, to write a goal statement that addresses these needs, and to create a simple action plan that incorporates support from your community in order to meet this goal. As you move through the application, use the Smart From The Start lesson plans to teach your students how to make healthy decisions which will become healthy habits.

Last year, the Smart from the Start Awards grand prize winner was Treadwell Elementary School of Shelby County Schools in Memphis, Tennessee. To improve health and wellness habits for their students, Treadwell Elementary partnered with Community Kitchen, a local nonprofit that provides Learning Gardens to schools across the country that teach children about healthy nutrition and empower them to make healthy choices. Treadwell used some of the $20,000 grant to implement the ‘Treadwell Snack Shack’ for students to self-select healthy snacks during snack time, as well as create a play area for students.

I love these preschool awards because it enables us to reach those with the greatest need, especially in underserved communities. One school that was selected as a runner-up was HALO Childcare Center in Racine, Wisconsin. Their preschool meets in a homeless shelter and they specifically mentioned a need for fresh fruits and vegetables because they have to rely on food donations for the children. It is stories like this, that motivates the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to find communities in need of help.

So if you are a preschool teacher or parent of a preschooler, don’t miss out on this opportunity to make a difference in your community.

Thanks for reading, now get to writing your SFTS application or telling a friend to do so!

Becky Johnson
Executive Director