Child Care Spotlight: Youthland Academy-Forest Park

picture of teachers and director of youthland academy in forest park ohio
Diane Brown (teacher), Nikita Hammons (center
director), Katherine Moody (teacher)

picture of teacher at youthland academy forest park ohio
Christina Hightower, teacher

photo of cook at youthland academy
Bobbi Komotios, cook

Center:
Youthland Academy-Forest Park cares for 130 children and is licensed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. See photos from our recent visit to the center here.

Communities served:
Forest Park and surrounding areas.

WeTHRIVE! Champion:
Nikita Hammons has been with Youthland for seven years, the past three as director of the Forest Park center. Caring for children is her passion and this is evident as soon as you enter the building.

How Youthland Academy-Forest Park THRIVES!:
  • WeTHRIVE! Child Care Resolution: Youthland Academy-Forest Park adopted the WeTHRIVE! Child Care Resolution in fall 2013. While kids’ health was already a priority, Ms. Hammons realized that “we need to do more.” 
  • Movement is Fun: Children at the center learn that being active means having fun. Ms. Hammons has a special way of getting the kids awake and focused each morning. She leads them in her unique blend of stretching, meditation, yoga and running around the outside of the building (weather permitting). The center’s monthly calendar is filled with special activities and many involve movement (think nature walks and Boogie Dancing). Teachers set the example by always participating. 
  • Training is a Priority: Ms. Hammons and all of her staff members attended WeTHRIVE!’s CATCH training where they learned more ways to promote physical activity and healthy food choices to children and their parents. She has also arranged nutrition education for her staff.
  • The Whole Family Gets Involved: Ms. Hammons knows every child’s family and takes into account their individual circumstances. This helps when she needs to do things like tell a parent to stop sending junk food in with their child. “I’ve gained parents’ trust by letting them know that I care about their whole family. Then when I have nutrition or exercise information, they take it because they have trust in me.”

In Her Own Words:
Nikita Hammons: “The obesity statistics that I learned about from WeTHRIVE! are heartbreaking. Kids are our future. We have to promote positive health and positive behaviors so they can live longer and healthier lives than their parents.
WeTHRIVE! gives me the tools I need to keep trying new ways to do this.”

Get updates and information about WeTHRIVE!—Join the WeTHRIVE! Movement today! 
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February 26, 2015