Healthy Way to Grow (HWTG) is a national, science-based, early childhood technical assistance program to help improve practices and policies for obesity prevention. The American Heart Association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities and is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. Nemours is a nonprofit pediatric health system dedicated to life-changing medical care and research — helping kids grow up healthy and advocating for kids nationally.
The Ways We Help
With 60 percent of American children spending a majority of their day in early childhood programs, the goal of Healthy Way to Grow is to help early childhood programs (serving children from birth through age five) to improve and sustain nutrition, physical activity, screen time, infant feeding, sleep habits, staff wellness, and family engagement. Healthy Way to Grow provides support to participating centers through subject matter experts and guides policy change as centers implement key HWTG components.
Interested in becoming a Healthy Way to Grow community?Learn More!
Becoming a healthy Way to Grow Community
How do you know if HWTG is right for your community?
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then Healthy Way to Grow is a fit for your community.
High levels of adult and youth obesity can indicate a need for prevention. Working with early childhood programs ensures that children are being exposed to healthy habits early in life. Coupled with community and health care interventions, HWTG can be part of a systematic approach to addressing obesity in the early years.
HWTG has worked with a variety of early childhood programs, including:
- child care centers
- Early Head Start & Head Start
- family child care
- faith based organizations
- military bases
- school districts
- for profit and non-profit
- small business
- government and local municipalities
HWTG can work with you to design community specific programming based on your communities’ priorities and available resources. We can help with the expansion of current initiatives and provide guidance on funding options.
American Heart Association (AHA) and Nemours are partnering with communities across the country to deliver HWTG to early childhood programs.
- Early childhood programs report significant increase in the number of written policies on wellness topics.
- More than five years since HWTG implementation, early childhood programs report maintaining improvement in monitoring of wellness policies.
- Across programs, the amount of education to staff shows a significant increase as part of wellness policy development, implementation and sustainability of change.
Participating programs are able to apply for national HWTG Recognition each spring. The recognition rewards the work that early childhood programs have done to incorporate best practices in the areas of:
- Wellness Policy Implementation
- Provider Education
- Child Education and Learning Activities
- HWTG Best Practices
- Family Engagement
- Staff Wellness
Early childhood programs apply by submission of an application and supporting documentation which is reviewed by AHA and Nemours. Recognition awards levels of gold, silver and bronze are determined by the percent of achievement in the categories. Early childhood programs are provided a banner and plaque for display, acknowledging their achievement for the 2 year award period.
Congratulations to HWTG Recognition Awardees (2019-2021)
St Louis, MO
BRONZE – Birth Academy LLC
BRONZE – Delmar Garden North Early Childhood Center
BRONZE – Kingdom House
Cape Cod, MA
SILVER – PACE Head Start, Madison Street
SILVER – PACE Head Start, Smith Street
BRONZE – Little Stars Learning Center
BRONZE – The Children’s College
BRONZE – Cape Cod Children’s Place
GOLD – Maplewood YMCA
GOLD – Park Ridge Child Care
Salt Lake City, Utah
BRONZE – Forever Children Daycare
BRONZE – Smart Kids 1
GOLD – Nina’s Family Child Care Center at Park Lee
GOLD – S.E.E.K Early Learning Center
SILVER – Bridges Gilbert
BRONZE – Nina’s Family Child Care Center at Main
Our Participating Communities
What Our Participants Say
“I feel like the Healthy Way to Grow program has made a big difference in the way that staff and families think about nutrition and exercise as it applies to the children here at Day Nursery. As parents and educators, the tools that we give children when they are young are so important to help them develop the healthy habits that they will need for a lifetime of great health. The Healthy Way to Grow program has given us the framework to do that, and we are thrilled to be a part of this program.”
Mary Beth Rogers, Center Director,
“I had a parent ask about food alternative for her twins’ upcoming birthday and I was able to share some of the activities you [Healthy Way to Grow] sent me. She was so excited and impressed that I had ideas so readily available. That was my confirmation that we are going in the right direction and that parents will welcome the change.”
Ida Perez, Center Director,
Ibero Early Childhood Services
“Any questions we had, anything we weren’t sure about, she [Healthy Way to Grow Staff] was able to walk us through it. All of the materials, our monthly activity calendars that we hang on the wall, all of that is provided. It’s like anything I think I’m stuck with, I can get on the phone and call her, and she’s there.”
Trina Brown, Center Director,
Touched by an Angel Day Care