Children in the Westport Weston Family Y’s Early Learning Program got a special visit on Thursday, Feb. 7, from the Tooth Fairy.
Dressed in a long pink gown, including wings, our Fairy friend entertained toddlers and pre-schoolers while she talked about the daily habits that lead to good health and pearly whites that last a lifetime.
“Kids, so tell me, what goes into your sippy cups?” she asked. “Is it juice, or soda, or water…”
“Water!” came the merry shout-outs.
Our Family Y kids were spot-on with their responses (although “milk” is also a good answer) because they’re part of a child care program that’s committed to following nutritional, lifestyle and exercise guidelines adopted by nearly 10,000 early-childhood and after-school programs across the country to help ensure that more children have access to healthy food and physical activity.
Initiated in late 2011, the guidelines grow out of discussions the Y-USA had First Lady Michelle Obama and Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting Mrs. Obama’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity.
As our local community’s largest provider of child care services, “the Family Y’s Early Learning Program, Kinderkids and School Age Programs are dedicated to supporting and implementing new policy changes to reflect the new healthy living standards,” says Senior Director Tasha Dennison. To read more about this initiative, click here.
Specific healthy lifestyle policies and practices in place in the Family Y’s Child Care programs include:
- Children are offered milk and water with snacks and meals;
- Pre-packaged snacks are substituted with healthy alternatives whenever possible;
- Children in all programs will be presented with a variety of health snack choices including seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables;
- Each group has no less than an hour each morning and afternoon to provide the children in their care with gross motor activities and challenges;
- Teachers will make educating parents about these healthy living standards a priority. Sharing articles and knowledge about the reasons behind the guidelines and providing parents with resources and healthy alternatives.
No doubt our Y kids went home last night with tales of the day, a more enthusiastic brushing after dinner, a sleepy, last-minute check for a wiggly tooth – and sweet dreams brought on the tooth fairy dust sprinkled over their heads.
One timely question surely helped them sleep well: “What happens when it snows? Does the Tooth Fairy still come?”
“Of course!” our Tooth Fairy replied, “Although sometimes it snows so much my wings don’t work very well. Then I have to drive my car…”
Stealing glimpses at the Fairy’s cute but stubby wings, the kids nodded knowingly, then focused in on a few pale little teeth the Fairy held cupped in her hand.
“Now, take a close look at these teeth,” the Fairy said as she walked past their tiny chairs. “Do you see that some have small dark spots on them? Now, how do you think they got there…?”
Tooth Fairy visits are a part of the educational outreach from Kids First Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics of Fairfield. (Spoiler alert: Our Tooth Fairy today was Laura Epifano.) As their website says, “The 30-minute, enthusiastic presentation includes colorful visuals, fairy dust, and songs, along with a discussion on the importance of good nutrition. The Tooth Fairy gives delightful presentations to children in the comfort of their own familiar environment. It truly goes a long way in establishing a positive foundation. Children develop a greater interest in their personal brushing habits.”
For more information or to schedule a visit to your own group of children, click here for the Kids First Dentistry website.
The Family Y Early Learning Program offers developmentally appropriate care to meet the needs of families who live and work in Westport, Weston and surrounding communities. It is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – the nation’s leading organization of early childhood professionals.
“A mark of excellence held by just 8 percent of programs in the country, NAEYC accreditation lets families in our community know that children in our program are getting the best care and early-learning experiences possible,” says Rob Reeves, Family Y CEO. “Our role in supporting this nationwide campaign to reduce childhood obesity is a critical part in fostering a healthier future for the children in our care, and through them, every member of their family.”