First Discoveries Academy is proud to be the only Eco-Healthy, Nature-Inspired early childhood program in the Brandon / Valrico area. Our goal is to create the healthiest possible learning environments, including both our classrooms and our playgrounds, so that we can nurture children's minds, bodies, and spirits.
We offer nutritious foods with lots of fresh produce because healthy eating habits begin in childhood.
We use "green" cleaning practices and we follow higher environmental standards to promote healthy child development.
Our focus on Nature Education teaches children to honor and care for our amazing world!
In the summer of 2015, we were endorsed by the Children's Environmental Health Network as an Eco-Healthy Child Care facility. To achieve this recognition, we completed an extensive self-study which involved evaluating our classrooms and playgrounds and educating our staff about ways to improve our program. The Eco-Healthy Child Care Program is a division of Children's Environmental Health Network, and its goal is to help parents choose early childhood programs that create safer, healthier environments to support young children's growth and development. Currently, we are the only program in Hillsborough County that has achieved this distinction.
Nutritious meals and snacks are prepared onsite by our cook using organic, non-gmo foods.
We serve fresh, organic fruits and vegetables every day.
Weekly cooking projects teach about healthy foods, such as making our own fruit salad.
Family style meals provide opportunities for us to practice social skills, language development, table manners and independence.
We use green cleaning practices, including using organic soaps and limiting children's exposure to bleach and other chemicals.
No pesticides used onsite.
Instead, we use IPM (integrated pest management).
Our site has been tested for asbestos, lead and other toxic chemicals.
Limited use of plastics in our classrooms, with wooden furniture and healthier toys.
Huge outdoor playgrounds situated on a one acre lot.
Opportunities for children to explore natural materials in creative ways.
Barnyard with friendly, gentle Nigerian dwarf goats that children help take care of.
Organic gardens with lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and so much more!
Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom principles implemented on our playgrounds.
Extended playground time every day so children get more exercise.
Organic is part of our committment to healthy children, healthy earth!
Our Journey To be Organic and Non-GMO
In January 2016, First Discoveries Academy began to transition to organic meals and snacks. Our menus now include fresh organic produce, organic milk and dairy products, and organic lean protein including chicken, turkey, and dried beans.
Why is organic so important to us? It's simple. Organic foods are healthier for children and healthier for our environment. Organic farming means that foods are grown without the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. By choosing organic foods, we protect children's health by limiting their exposure to synthetic chemicals and we promote the type of agriculture that is healthy and sustainable.
To ensure the healthiest environment for children, we purchase foods certified by the USDA organic standards as well as products that are certified by the Non-GMO Project.
To learn more about eating organic and how it can benefit your family:
The Benefits for Organic Foods for Your Family by Care.com
GMOs and Your Family by the NonGMO Project
5 Reasons Why Organics Matter by HealthyChild.org
Learn how your child can benefit from our Eco-Healthy, Nature-Inspired program!
Organic: Is it necessary?
Experts disagree about whether buying and eating organic is better for people or better for the environment. Conflicting reports and recommendations make the decision difficult for the average consumer. So with these conflicting recommendations, is organic really necessary for children's health?
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that eating 5 servings of fresh produce is better than eating a single serving of organic produce, citing the need to increase produce in children's diets. The American Cancer Society states that eating more produce reduces cancer risks for adults and children, alike, but also states that the higher cost of organics could decrease the likelihood that families will purchase produce.
However, the President's Cancer Panel cites eating organics and avoiding plastics as the two most powerful ways to reduce environmental toxins and their associated cancer risks:
"Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers ... Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic runoff from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications," according to the report issued by the President's Cancer Panel.
Americans care about how pesticides are affecting our health and the health of our children. A Special Report by Consumer Reports revealed several important facts:
In a survey of 1050 people, pesticides are a big concern for Americans.
The average American has 29 pesticides in their body.
13 health risks have been associated with pesticide exposure, including birth defects, ADHD in children, low IQ in children, fertility issues and cancer in both adults and children
Their conclusion: "organic is always the best choice because it is better for your health, the environment, and the people who grow our food."
So, is it necessary to purchase organics? At First Discoveries, we believe that ensuring children's health has to include choosing the healthiest foods for children.
We promote children's healthy development through menus that focus on organic, non-GMO foods whenever possible. We limit the use of processed foods and serve fresh organic fruits and vegetables every day.