Young children in Boyd County are learning healthy habits all thanks to programming efforts by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

One of the highlights of the program includes letting the children plant their own vegetables.

Susan Grimmett, program assistant for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, has worked with 300 students at four schools within the county to teach them about the importance of nutrition and physical activity within the school year.

“Children at this are age are sponges and absorb everything,” said Grimmett.

Grimmett uses Organ Annie and other characters from The OrganWise Guys, a program initiated by two doctors to spread awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle to battle childhood obesity.

Grimmett has used the program with Boyd County preschool through second-grade students for the past three years as students and teachers continue to request it.

Grimmett worked with Lori Bowling, the Boyd County horticulture extension agent, to help the children grow their own pots of leaf lettuce.

Lettuce was the perfect choice because students could quickly see growth.

“It reinforces what we are trying to teach them,” said Bowling. “It brings it down to their level.”

That’s when the next phase of the program kicks in: the children then bring the pots home with the goal of sharing the message of nutrition and healthy eating to their families.

“We felt like if we started young, the children will encourage the rest of the family to go along with them,” said Bowling.