Founder & CEO, Bloomers!
Recent studies prove that school-based garden and nutrition education programs positively impact the adoption of healthy eating habits; children are more likely to try new fruits and vegetables if they grow them themselves. Healthy eating in childhood and adolescence is important for proper growth and development and can actually prevent health problems such as obesity, dental caries, iron deficiency, and osteoporosis.
Bloomers! has created a revolutionary and unique way to make gardening more appealing, engaging and meaningful for young children by integrating game-elements into the ‘hands-on’ learning process to create an “EDU-taining” garden experience unlike any other.
With Bloomers! children learn by doing with our ‘hands-on’ and immersive approach to healthy eating through creating real-life and virtual playgrounds where students can have direct experiences with the magic of nature. The healthful diet and exercise practices children learn through a garden-based education, planted like the seeds in a garden, will continue to grow into life-long habits that can be effective weapons in the fight against childhood obesity and, ultimately help create a healthier population. The Bloomers! Schoolyard program takes a coordinated approach to help children overcome their health, developmental and educational challenges, through creating an interactive game that links nutrition + environmental education with technology so children can keep playing, growing and learning at home, at school, online and even outside.
Our current generation is the first one in our nation’s history at risk of having a lower life expectancy than their parents due mainly to poor nutritional habits. If you ask many young child where food comes from, the most common answer is the grocery store. Understanding where food comes from and how fruits and vegetables are harvested is essential to understanding better nutritional values and practices. The more exposure and understanding a child has of this, the better chance they have at eating healthier and avoiding bad food habits.
Schools are in a unique position to promote healthy eating and help ensure appropriate food and nutrient intake among students. Schools provide students with opportunities that enable students to learn about and practice healthy eating behaviors. School gardens can be integrated into the educational curriculum to teach children not only about gardening and plants but other subjects as well. The school vegetable garden is an effective way to get kids moving, teach nutrition education, and promote healthy eating habits. Yet, the majority of schools in the U.S. do not have a school garden or a nutrition education program; they lack the resources required to do so.
Many schools – sadly the ones whose students need it the most – simply cannot afford “extras” like gardening programs. In working with thousands of school children, Bloomers! Edutainment noticed this and decided to do something about it. In forming the non-profit, Bloomers! Schoolyard, Inc., Bloomers! has been able to raise money to donate the Bloomers! hands-on gardening and healthy eating program to schools such as the federally funded Head Start schools, state subsidized preschools and Title I elementary schools. In addition, a portion of all Bloomers! Edutainment products sold are donated to Bloomers! Schoolyard.
Together, with the help of Schools, Educators, Parents and the Community, we can reverse the poor nutrition habits of our nation, through allowing children the opportunity to grow a vegetable garden and learn healthy eating practices that will last a lifetime. Bloomers! Schoolyard is making it fun for the child and easy for the educator and therefore more possible than ever before to start a school garden and improve the health of young students.
Cynthia Wylie is the founder and C.E.O. of Bloomers! Schoolyard. She has her B.S. in Agriculture from Pennsylvania State University and was a fellow at Georgetown University where she received her graduate degree in Economics.
As an emerging thought leader in the field of healthy eating and gardening with children, Wylie has given many presentations over the last four years including annual conferences at the California Association for the Education of Young Children, San Diego Family Child Care Association, Eastern Sierra Child Development Conference and the Early Childhood STEM Conference by Cal Tech. She has worked with thousands of students in Southern California in the role of setting up the unique Bloomers! Schoolyard program, and has published 7 children’s books on nature and gardening. Bloomers! Schoolyard is one of the resources on the Edible Schoolyard Project and Wylie is a Leader with the Prevent Obesity Organization.
Wylie, a self-ascribed late bloomer, was raised on a farm in Western Pennsylvania, which is where she first developed a love for all things green. As a successful entrepreneur, she has built three companies over the last 25 years: Maui Toys, X-Large Streewear Clothing and now Bloomers! While at Maui Toys she was named one of the Entrepreneurs of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine.
After selling her apparel company in 2008, Wylie decided to go back to her roots and build a business around her childhood experience of growing food and her passion for healthy eating. Bloomers! Edutainment combines technology with hands-on learning to make gardening a game for young children on three “playgrounds” – online, at home, and in school.
Wylie has raised four children in Venice, California and still visits the family farm several times a year where she grows blackberries and is working on perfecting the ultimate bottle of blackberry syrup.