Catching Kids Getting Healthy
Catch Kids Club at Keene Recreation Center in Keene, N.H.
By Dawn Klingensmith
Andy Bohannon was shocked. He knew that the percentage of children nationwide who are overweight or obese, or at risk of becoming so, is alarmingly high. In 2004, it stood at 28 percent. But when he learned that New Hampshire's rate was even higher (32 percent), he was astounded—and vowed to do something about it.
But though the reach of the city of Keene's Parks and Recreation department is fairly broad, its coffers aren't deep. Bohannon, a recreation programmer for the department, needed a program he could implement quickly and economically to combat childhood obesity in his part of the state.
Of three established programs under consideration, Bohannon chose the CATCH Kids Club (CKC), a physical activity and nutrition education program designed for elementary school children in after-school and summer settings. Bohannon sent away for CKC resource materials, which enabled staff with no formal training to start encouraging 5- to 12-year-olds to make healthy dietary decisions and engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity at the Keene Recreation Center on a daily basis.
CKC teaching aids include an "activity box" containing 325 cards with detailed instructions on facilitating games, activities and skill-development exercises, all designed to get kids moving. All the games are non-elimination, so no one is ever sidelined, left out or forced to deal with feelings of ineptitude. Recognizing that after-school organizations' resources vary widely, and that weather and concurrent programming can affect the availability of space from one day to the next, the kit includes a "Limited Space and Formations" section. CKC also provides a 256-page nutrition manual with 32 scripted teaching sessions.