"The program provides a great way for Zurich's employees to make a real difference in the lives of young children from disadvantaged schools... great relationships are formed between the buddies over the year."
Daystar felt compelled to act after reading a Macarthur Chronicle article on 5 February 2007, which stated "The Macarthur region of South West Sydney has one of the highest rates of obesity in NSW" and also hearing Professor Andrew McDonald, (former) Head of Paediatrics at Campbelltown Hospital state, "This generation of children is likely to be the first to die before their parents." McDonald's comment is directly correlated to the problem of obesity resulting from poor lifestyle choices and eating habits. It is this problem which Daystar seeks to address through its Garden Club.
The focus of our Garden Club is our Organic Produce Gardens which we are now operating in eight schools teaching our children how to construct garden beds, plant seedlings and care for the growing plants. Importantly too, students are learning about eating healthy food.
Through our Organic Produce Gardens, we are already seeing an impact on the food choices of students who participate in Garden Club - many are eating 'green' for the first time; a number of students have established produce gardens at home; and some are taking food home to eat. Some Garden Clubs are selling the produce to their school canteen, using the funds generated to buy further seedlings for replanting. This initiative not only introduces the children to some basic business principles it also contributes towards the gardens becoming self-funding and therefore sustainable. Students are loving the experience, and at a very basic level are understanding that not all food comes in plastic wrapping, although one student did comment "you can't eat that, it's got dirt on it". Claymore Public School Deputy Principal, Tina Crocker actively teaches students in Garden Club. She is thrilled with the program and the progression students have made, "Students who two months ago would not eat a fresh bean, now cannot wait to get out of the classroom to pick a bean to eat. I have seen confidence build as students learn something they can teach their parents and their friends. If we can teach this generation about healthy eating, we have the opportunity to break what is a generational problem; we can break the cycle." Click here to read more about what Tina has to say.
As our Daystar staff are not horticulturists, we rely on the support of our collaborative partners. Sydney Botanical Gardens Trust and The Macarthur Centre For Sustainable Living teach students and teachers the necessary skills and techniques to grow organic produce garden from start to finish. Like all Daystar's BLAST programs, Garden Club is an integral part of the school's curriculum being taught in such subjects are science, construction and home economics.