Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Go, Slow, Whoa! How Rec & Ed is encouraging healthy eating among elementary kids

"Heathy eating for kids in Ann Arbor" may not be the first thing people think of when they hear the words "Rec&Ed." But Promoting Well-Being is one of our organizational values, and we believe encouraging healthy eating among AAPS students is an important way to accomplish this. Thanks to a Michigan Dept of Community Health grant that we received last year, we've increased our staff's capacity to teach nutrition education to youth in our programs. This fall we received $60,000 in renewal funding to continue this important work.

After reviewing several best-practice nutrition education curricula, we chose the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) After School Club. CATCH uses the child-friendly "Go, Slow, Whoa" model developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institutes. The curriculum includes engaging nutrition education discussion and activities to teach children about good choices for healthy eating.

Clearly, this second grade Obstacle Dash participant
understood the Go, Slow, Whoa concept really well!
This fall, along with our partner One on One Sports Training, we incorporated CATCH into our Obstacle Dash after school program. Our 2nd-8th grade participants received 20 minutes of CATCH nutrition education and a healthy snack, followed by 50 minutes of physical activity using a variety of obstacles.

At the end of the program, we asked our participants to finish this sentence in whatever format they chose (writing, drawing, or both): "What Obstacle Dash taught me about being healthy..."

"I learned how to army crawl. 
I learned how do to teamwork."
Both of these photos of student artwork show how the Obstacle Dash program inspired Ann Arbor kids to be healthier! We have about 80 more interesting and sometimes adorable pictures like these in our office. We're going to post some of them around our office and display them in other ways, so ask to see them next time you're here at 1515 S. Seventh.

We've also received many parent testimonials such as the following:
"The healthy eating portion made a big impression on my son! More than when I discuss nutrition with him. He came home telling me he only wanted to eat "Go" foods. :)"
--parent of elementary Obstacle Dash participant
The culminating Obstacle Dash event (free to those who were in the after school program) was also a big hit. See related blog post: 100+ Kids Defeat Giant Obstacle Course.

We'll be offering an Obstacle Dash camp or special event during one of the AAPS school breaks and another 8-week after school program this spring. Want to get on the list to hear about early bird discounts and scholarships for registration? Contact Sheri Judkins via email or at 994-2300, ext. 53233.

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