The Healthy Roots Foundation journey for Anne Schneider and her husband Matt started when their son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with a life-threatening birth defect. He was treated at the Newborn Intensive Care Unit and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
After the intense anxiety they experienced in having a critically ill child, Anne says they decided to transform their annual backyard bluegrass party into a family-friendly fundraising event. So, in 2009, Bluegrass for Babies was born. “The original mission of Bluegrass for Babies was to help improve children’s health by raising funds for the Perinatal Institute of Cincinnati Children’s,” Anne explains.
As Anne and Matt navigated their way through the first years as new parents, they discovered that the standard health education provided to new parents was lacking. “It isn’t equipped with the resources necessary in order for parents to make informed decisions and give children the best possible start to life,” Anne adds.
That’s why, in 2011, the Bluegrass for Babies served as an educational event to give families practical lifestyle tips and examples on how healthy lifestyle choices. “For example, we decided to offer concessions that were sourced from local and sustainably raised food purveyors and entirely eliminated high fructose corn syrup from the food options,” Anne explains. “Additionally, we felt it was important to become a zero waste event.”
Then, in 2012, Anne and Matt partnered with the Cincinnati Children’s Museum where they hosted health-focused outreach programs that are based on the family-friendly educational tools and activities they were offering at the Bluegrass for Babies events.
After years of providing families with the educational tools they need to instill healthy lifestyles in their children, the Schneiders launched the Healthy Roots Foundation in 2014. When they started the foundation, they wanted to help bridge the healthy education gap through the non-profit.
The Healthy Roots Foundation’s mission is about helping families create the best environment for raising healthy children from the very beginning. They provide families with the knowledge they need to make the best choices available.
The research the foundation supports as well as the education it provides comes together at the annual Bluegrass for Babies and Midsummer Harvest events. “Since 2009 our organization has raised nearly $100,000 to support innovative children’s health research and educational programs through out partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center,” Anne says.
Currently, the Healthy Roots Foundation’s education efforts include Healthy Home Workshops for families, early children’s health speakers at fundraising events and support for the Cincinnati Children’s Perinatal Institute through donations.
Anne says that Healthy Home Workshops for Kids provide attendees with play-based, multi-sensory activities that empower children and their families to improve their health through gardening, nutrition, recycling and toxin awareness. She adds that the workshops are hosted at the Duke energy Children’s Museum and are ideal for families of preschoolers and early elementary-aged children.
The Healthy Roots Foundation wants to give all children the best possible start to life by providing them with innovative health education. Anne says the foundation’s ultimate vision is to tie together the current pediatric health resources and tools available and develop additional resources where needed. She hopes to then create comprehensive educational programs that are focused on enabling families to create a healthy home environment to help prevent chronic diseases and injuries.
Looking ahead, Anne says The Healthy Roots Foundation will focus on unique fundraising events that raise awareness and challenge the status quo while continuing to develop and host educational outreach programs in partnership with leading community organizations,” she adds. “The foundation will also continue to support cutting-edge prenatal and pediatric preventative health research through its partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.”
In addition to Anne and Matt, the Healthy Roots Foundation also has a group of passionate volunteers. “Many of those involved have had a personal connection with a family member or friend who’s experienced a child born with an illness or life-threatening condition,” Anne says.
There are a number of ways that you can get involved with and support the Healthy Roots Foundation. You can give online, become a volunteer, sponsor, attend events and more. To learn more, check out their website, “like” Healthy Roots Foundation on Facebook or follow along on Twitter.