Fighting Childhood Obesity
Michelle Obama jokes with comedians Jimmy Fallon and Will Ferrel about her "Let's Move" campaign to raise a healthier generation of kids.
One in three U.S. kids and teens is overweight or obese today, and many children spend most of their day in a child care setting where healthy lifestyles may not be commonly promoted. The Family Conservancy has staff certified in “I Am Moving, I Am Learning,” a nationally-recognized curriculum, and is implementing the initiative on both sides of the state line to improve children’s fitness, nutrition and health while in child care settings.
On the Kansas side, TFC works with approximately 15 child care providers through the Early Childhood Wellness, a Program of Child Care Aware® of Kansas at The Family Conservancy. Amy Cochran, Early Childhood Wellness Specialist, uses a variety of means to support the underlying goal of reducing rates of childhood obesity in Kansas.
Through this program, child care programs:
• Attend eight hours of professional development trainings, which includes topics such as brain/body connection, hand-eye development, teaching children to choose nutritious options, safety hazards, and diapering/handwashing.
• Receive monthly one-on-one coaching and help with challenges.
• Are given a grant to help with program improvements, such as: play food and books; tricycles; balls/hoops/nets; gardening seeds, tools and supplies; music CDs and ribbons for movement.
• Receive ongoing information via monthly enewsletters and a closed Facebook group.
• Hold an annual parent night event to educate on health, fitness and nutrition topics.
• Set goals to improve the health, fitness and nutrition of children. For example, if the children routinely practice one hour of physical activity a week, the goal might be four hours a week.
The three-year project began in July 2012, and involves a new set of child care professionals each year. Amy is nationally-certified in the “I am Moving, I am Learning” curriculum. (see Missouri project below video).
In Missouri, The Family Conservancy trains 20 child care providers in Clay, Platte and Ray counties to improve nutrition and physical activity for children ages birth to five. Through these providers, the program will impact 200 children in Northwest Missouri.
In the 2012 state health rankings, Missouri ranked 44th in overall health - with over 30% of the population classified as obese, 80% of the population not consuming fruits and/or vegetables on a daily basis, and 28% of adults reporting no daily physical activity or exercise.
Child care programs:
• Receive three daylong trainings which includes topics such as brain/body connection, hand-eye development, teaching children to choose nutritious options, activity ideas, safety hazards, and diapering/handwashing.
• Agree to host a Parent Café to share nutrition and physical activities tips and ideas with families.
• Receive a resource kit of materials that gives them tools to incorporate the activities on a daily basis
• Attend two support groups where they can share techniques, successes or challenges while incorporating the curriculum with other programs.
• Pledge to switch to healthy meals and snacks increasing active play time and active play choices.
• Are asked to encourage family involvement in their child’s program and lifestyle changes at home.
This one-year project began in August 2013. Early Education Professional Development Specialist Heather Waterfield is nationally-certified in the "I am Moving, I am Learning" curriculum.