He’s an aquatic mammal who models healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices for young children. He’s been the subject of books and plays, and now Potter the Otter has an exhibit named after him at Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.
“Potter the Otter: A Healthy Adventure” opened Feb. 21 with a visit from Potter himself. Children of families served by First 5 Santa Clara County’s resource centers were the first to enjoy the exhibit.
First 5 created Potter the Otter in 2011 in line with its mission to support the healthy development of children through age 5. The nonprofit, along with Kaiser Permanente and the state Department of Health and Human Services, funded publication of “Potter the Otter: A Tale About Water” to help encourage families to cut back on soda and juice consumption. The book spawned a series about the otter’s adventures and his healthy choices.
Marilee Jennings, executive director of Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, said the museum subsequently hosted story times where the book was read aloud. The museum eventually turned the story into an interactive play that toured local schools and libraries.
After its run in San Jose ends May 10, “A Healthy Adventure” is set to tour of museums and libraries across California. The exhibit allows visitors to join Potter on a journey through his neighborhood on a quest to catch a Rainbow Racer fish and join the water polo team. Along the way, children can test their skills, meet Potter’s playful friends and learn why healthy choices are important.
“Potter the Otter has long been a symbol of healthy living goals,” said Dr. Antonia Charles of the Pediatric Healthy Lifestyle Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, adding that her center’s “10 Steps to a Healthier You” guide recommends many of the same steps found in the “Potter the Otter” books.
“I work with families who face challenges to providing healthy meals for their kids,” Charles said at the exhibit’s opening, pointing out that 46 percent of adults in Santa Clara County are pre-diabetic. “We need to start teaching young kids about healthy diets and lifestyle behaviors.”
Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, who chairs the county’s First 5 commission, said Potter has been a successful role model.
“More kids are drinking water as a result of Potter the Otter,” Ellenberg said. “Potter the Otter and this exhibit are a testament to the creativity of First 5 and the Children’s Discovery Museum.”