“Change for the Better!” Helps Rittenhouse Residents Grow!

“Change for the Better!” Helps Rittenhouse Residents Grow!

Recently “Change for the Better!” and North Star Stone Inc. (Valparaiso, IN) helped the residents of the Rittenhouse Senior Living community (Valparaiso, IN) build raised planters for their vegetable garden. The garden project began in May as the residents travelled to Windy Ridge Farms (Valparaiso, IN) to plant a variety of seeds, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and marigolds in starter trays. These seedlings were later transferred into two raised planters. One was twelve feet and the other ten feet long. Both planters are two feet wide and thirty inches high. The planters’ dimensions were specifically designed for the convenience of the seniors as they are easy to reach across and will not require any bending to harvest the vegetables.

“Change for the Better!” is a not-for-profit entity which operates under the general guidelines of “We Can!” A federal program sponsored by the National Institutes of Health which stands for “Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition!” “We Can!” is geared towards reducing childhood obesity by providing tips and resources to help adults and children make healthier food choices and increase physical activity.

In the U.S. one out of every six children ages two to 19 is overweight. What people don’t realize is that overweight children become overweight adults, who are at greater risk of life-long, potentially debilitating illnesses including diabetes and heart disease. Not only can these illnesses lead to a shorter life expectancy, they can lead to increased health-care costs for all of us. Since 1980, obesity has more than doubled among children ages 2-5 and has tripled among youth 6-19. Illinois and Indiana are ranked 4th and 15th in the nation for obese teenagers, with obesity rates for adults having soared to 27.1% and 30.8%, respectively. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) estimates that the obesity rate for Hoosier adults will reach 56.0% by 2030 if obesity rates continue on their current trajectory.

Rittenhouse seniors continue to lead the way to a healthier lifestyle through daily exercise programs, healthy eating and the introduction of the new vegetable garden. The “Change for the Better!” program is a nationally recognized and awarded grass roots effort to use physical activity and food to nurture, educate and empower adults and young people in the fight against obesity. Over the past five years it has helped thousands of participants in Chicago and Northwest Indiana to “Change for the Better!”

Special thanks to North Star Stone Inc., Windy Ridge Farms and “Change for the Better!” for their generous donation of time and materials.

Special thanks to Tony & Debbie Czalpa, resident family members, who researched this project and built these planters!