During the summer months kids are more likely to gain weight, be less active and fall behind academically. That’s why the YMCA has launched our HOP THE GAP campaign—a program that helps youth and teens overcome barriers related to learning, water safety, access to safe places, hunger, and health. One way our Y is helping kids hop the gap is through our garden at the YMCA Express at Gainsboro. While this is the second year we've had a garden, it's the first year we've organized a Youth Garden Club.
The planting started in mid-May when experienced staff and volunteers planted cucumbers, peas, okra, squash, zucchini, broccoli, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, and green beans. The Lucy Addison Middle School Ecology Club installed the hanging herb garden that used recycled plastic liter bottles as gardening containers.
Arthur Hill, an avid volunteer from Roanoke Community Garden Association, assisted the program. Youth, along with staff, have harvested over 500lbs of produce this summer, and all the produce has been donated back into our community. YMCA Express Branch Director Bobbie Wolfe said, "We know that when people have access to healthy food, they’ll eat it. So this is our way of giving people an opportunity to try new foods and eat healthier."
The garden has a positive impact within the community providing kids a learning experience by growing and giving and volunteers reap in the bounty of giving back to the community. Eight-year-old Zahara spent time volunteering in the garden this summer, and decided she wants to be a soil scientist when she grows up. Her favorite part about Garden Club was “picking broccoli and learning about all the yummy food. I only eat broccoli when it’s raw.” Combining learning opportunities with physical activity and healthy eating is what the YMCA’s Hop the Gap initiative is all about.
Staff and volunteers will be turning the soil again when mid-to-late summer "cool season" crops (including kale and spinach) are planted. This fall, the Teen Leader’s Club will be developing their green thumbs as they take over garden responsibilities. You are invited to join us.
To volunteer for the YMCA Express at Gainsboro Garden Club
contact Bobbie at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about Hop the Gap
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