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NORWALK, Conn. -- The Stew Leonard III Children's Charities here said it has released a children's storybook "The Healthy Way," seeking to show youngsters "how to incorporate healthy eating and activity in a fun, engaging way."
The book is co-written by president and c.e.o. Stew Leonard Jr. and v.p. of public relations Meghan Flynn, who is a registered dietitian with a certification in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management. It was published by Kimberly Press and costs $4.95. "The Healthy Way" is the foundation's third storybook for children, but its first on nutrition.
"We wrote 'The Healthy Way' as a tool for parents to begin a dialogue with their children about the importance of eating healthfully, as well as to reinforce other nutrition messages they may get at school or home," said Leonard, who is also the founder of the Stew Leonard III Children's Charities, in a statement. "This book is filling a huge need. We've given thousands of store tours at our food store to children, and this book is an extension of the nutrition messages we teach on the tours."
"All proceeds from the book's sale will go towards funding nutrition education programs for children, and for the donation of the books to schools, through the Stew Leonard III Children's Charities foundation," Flynn told Progressive Grocer. "We are also planning to donate books to schools, libraries, children's hospitals, etc."
Through a grant from Bank of America, free copies are also available for elementary school students in school districts in lower-income areas. Readings at schools can also be arranged.
"Both Stew [Leonard Jr.] and I will be doing special book readings to area schoolchildren to launch the book," noted Flynn, who yesterday did one for the YMCA after-school program in Norwalk, and today is reading to third-grade students at Madison Elementary School in Bridgeport, Conn. "We also have tours set up for the other stores through March, which is National Nutrition Month."
Added Flynn, "I have trained team members to conduct the nutrition tours in each of our stores, and each tour group that comes in will now receive a complimentary copy of 'The Healthy Way.'"
The book tells the story of Johnny, who, like many kids, oversleeps, skips breakfast, snacks on chips instead of fruit, drinks soda rather than milk, and watches TV and plays video games when he could be playing outside. During his class' nutrition tour of a local supermarket, Johnny plays the clown instead of listening to the tour's host, Wow the Cow. Later, however, when Johnny is unable to finish the mile race as part of his class' physical fitness test, Johnny returns to Wow the Cow for some advice. With Wow's help, his friends' support, and the reinforcement of the "The Healthy Way" song (sung to the tune of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm"), Johnny learns how he can eat more healthfully and improve his physical fitness.
"The Healthy Way" zeroes in on four important areas of children's nutrition: eating breakfast, getting three servings of dairy every day for strong bones, consuming sufficient quantities of vegetables and fruit, and regular physical activity.
While working on the book, Leonard often consulted daughters Blake, Alexandra, Chase and Madison, to make sure the finished work would be child-friendly. Five-year Stew Leonard's employee Flynn, who first incorporated nutrition messages into the free Stew Leonard's store tours provided to schools and day care centers, "road-tested" the book with local school-age kids and invited children's nutrition experts, including Dr. Keith Ayoob, a pediatric nutritionist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, to read "The Healthy Way" and offer critiques.
"The Healthy Way" is now available at Stew Leonard's stores in Norwalk and Danbury, Conn. and Yonkers, N.Y., as well as online at www.stewleonardsgifts.com.