Partnering for Healthy Kids: EveryStep 5-2-1-0 and Handy’s Home Daycare


You may have grown up during a time when “playing” was the primary activity of childhood. Whether it was a rousing game of tag, a heated dodgeball match, a “red rover” face-off, or simply riding bikes or shooting baskets, physical activity was the norm. Today, with phones, tablets, video games and entertainment at the touch of a button, the lure of a more sedentary lifestyle for children is strong. Not all changes are negative (we’re looking at you, scalding hot metal slide), but many of today’s leisure time choices make daily physical activity a distant second to childhood screen time.

5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! program is a nationally recognized and evidence-based prevention strategy to promote healthy habits through increased physical activity and healthy eating. It focuses on five daily key behaviors:

  • ·       5 or more fruits and vegetables
  • ·       2 hours or less of screen time
  • ·       1 hour or more of physical activity
  • ·       0 sugary drinks and more water

Lyn Jenkins is EveryStep’s Community Health 5-2-1-0 coordinator. While some of the resources provided by EveryStep reach statewide, central Iowa (Dallas, Polk and Warren counties) are primarily served by 5-2-1-0.

“5-2-1-0 works across sectors where kids live, learn and play,” says Lyn. “I partner with schools, early care and out-of-school programs to provide what they need including staff training, parent outreach and family activities.” EveryStep also supports professional training and creates and shares resources such as the 5-2-1-0 recipe and activity book, 5-2-1-0 posters in multiple languages, water bottles and more.

Heather Handy, who operates Handy’s Home Daycare and Preschool in Norwalk, partners with EveryStep in the 5-2-1-0 program. “We serve four to five fruits and vegetables a day; we do not have any screen time at childcare; and we do not have sugary snacks or beverages, or sugary treats at celebrations,” says Heather. In addition, children in her daycare spend at least two hours each day outside or doing activities involving music, movement or exercise; and bi-monthly information goes home to parents with tips to incorporate some 5-2-1-0 practices at home.

Heather has seen a difference in the kids she cares for. “They spend a lot of time talking about healthy and unhealthy choices, and choices that are good for our bodies and our hearts. They have talked about how it is good when we feel our heart working extra hard.”

The children have also learned to garden and are more likely to try new fruits and veggies because they had a part in growing them. Their attitudes have changed as well, says Heather. “They talk about how we don't have sugary things at daycare because it's not good for us and how we don't watch screens at daycare because it's not good for our brains.”

Why is Heather so committed to 5-2-1-0? “Because it is the best choice for healthy kids, why else?” she says.

“Working with partners to foster safe and healthy places for kids is great work,” says Lyn.  I appreciate being able to highlight the good work that is already happening and to support new learning, partnerships and practices to serve kids and families. 5-2-1-0 is more than a message to make healthy choices; it is an initiative to make healthy choices easier for all kids and families.”

If you provide professional childcare services and would like assistance or free resources from EveryStep’s 5-2-1-0 program, contact Lyn Jenkins at