The Green Treat
grow green gardens. eat green foods. play in green spaces.
Who We Are
The Green Treat™ is a school-community gardening initiative led by students at Thomas Center for Learning and Physical Literacy Development, whose mission is to offer programs to encourage healthy habits and an active lifestyle.
The Green Treat™ educates children and youth to provide access to healthy foods and a safe, clean green outdoor play space. With this initiative, our goal is to grow with five classrooms every school year starting with schools and child care programs in the Germantown/ Mt. Airy area of Philadelphia.
What We Do
Kids learn the most from those they aspire to be like and those they interact with. We teach kids how to prepare healthy meals using green foods. We share recipes to make yummy green smoothies, wraps and salads. We raise money to care for our community garden so kids can grow with us even if they don't go to our after school program. When we can't visit their classroom, we donate educational stickers & supplies to raise awareness about the Green Treat™. We shop at local Black-owned farms to improve our health and education. We enjoy playing outdoors in nature!
an edible garden
nature-based play experiences for children in the community
budget proposal addresses need for safe, green spaces for at-risk youth in Philly [...]
Mayor Kenney's budget proposal for 2023 and City Council's additions address the need for programs serving young people who are at-risk for getting involved in gun violence later in life by making environmental improvements and safe, geener spaces. [...]
acres of Black owned land lost leading to the disproportionate amount of illnesses related to access to fresh food in Black communities. [...]
Black farmers in the U.S. lost 14 million acres of land because government policies and systemic racism in the country. Less than 2 percent of farmers identify as Black or mixed race compared with about 14 percent 100 years ago. A scarcity of Black-owned farms means a scarcity of healthy food right in the heart of communities of color. [...]
Let's Grow Together!
To Develop Children’s Physical Literacy
We noticed a lack of emphasis in our community on educating school-aged children about growing their own foods and staying active. We also recognized that, while there are public recreation areas and a community farm nearby, there is no program that specifically promotes children's physical literacy. Community playgrounds and picnic areas with lots of trees are helpful but not enough. Physical literacy requires intentional classroom activities and role models who teach students about living a healthy, active life in general.
To Improve Children’s Mental and Physical Well-Being
Despite the value of physical literacy, the human capability approach to development remains a social justice issue, particularly among people of color. Black children are specifically vulnerable to increased morbidity and mortality rates due to lack of participation in physical activity and increased risks of making unhealthy lifestyle choices (Warner et al., 2021; World Health Organization [WHO], 2021). Both greener views and surroundings, as well as time spent within green spaces, offer children numerous mental, physical and social developmental benefits. As a result, the Green Treat prioritizes nature-based play because it is essential for children's healthy mind-body connection and academic growth.
To Address Children’s Food Insecurity
Food insecurity is a measure of access to enough food for a healthy and active life. Food insecurity has been linked to delayed development in young children, an increased risk of chronic illnesses such as asthma and anemia, and behavioral issues in school-age children such as hyperactivity, anxiety, and aggression. According to the USDA, in 2021, 22% of Black children lived in food insecure households. We believe that children can grow food and prepare healthy meals if someone takes the time to teach them how. This way, children can show other children how to do the same.
To Give Children Voice and Choice in their Community
We believe that children and youth are today’s leaders. Providing children with the opportunity to develop positive behaviors is the foundation of most efforts to prevent youth crime and violence. This foundation needs to be set in childhood. Children must be given the opportunity to reconnect with and care for the Earth. There will be more capacity to care for one another if we take care of the health of the planet using our home community as a starting point. Misrepresented media and inaccurate historical representations of people of color can discourage youth from developing and expressing a strong, positive identity. The food children eat, as well as the life we show them, both play a role in identity formation too. The Green Treat gives children voice and choice in caring for each other and the community.
The body and mind exist to experience life to the fullest. The Green Treat has an inclusive, multisensory learning outdoor play space for children in the community. Our child-centered learning program acts as a holistic educational tool. We engage in self-directed play in an outdoor school environment, and show care for our big, beautiful green Earth. The Green Treat is an outdoor classroom, an extension of the amazing things happening indoors. When we stay inside, it seems like we shut the doors to all the other kids in the neighborhood. We want to eliminate the in-group/outgroup division in our community. We don't want them to think we don't like them. We want to meet them and play together. We want to show all the kids that we care about them.
Our play areas promote music and movement play, imaginative play, quiet reading, STEM education, cooperative learning, and independent play. We use our artwork on the walls of our building and a classroom map to stimulate play themes outdoors. Other kids can also submit their own games to be included in our play guide. They give their game a name, write down the rules, and explain what the game is all about. Our approach focuses on achieving positive outcomes for children/youth, schools and families by letting children lead the way.