Facility Profile - January 2010
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Recreation Fights Diabetes

Wise Kids Program in Corpus Christi, Texas


Calories In=Calories Out

Created by nutritionists, exercise physiologists and foundation staff specifically for after-school and out-of-school programming like that in Corpus Christi, Wise Kids partnered with the NRPA in 2006 to mobilize park and recreation agencies across the nation in addressing the problem of child obesity. The engaging nine-week program has now been implemented in more than 32 states across the country, giving children the knowledge they need to make wise decisions about nutrition and exercise. Wise Kids does not focus on fitness, dieting or weight loss, but simply on making choices that will get kids healthy and keep them healthy for a lifetime. The program is sold as a turnkey kit consisting of workbooks, games and activities that are used to teach children ages 6 to 11 about the Energy Balance Equation. It also includes training manuals, a training CD designed to teach program leaders the basics of the energy balance curriculum and a marketing CD which includes family letters to help share the kids' learning with their families at home.

Each one-hour segment of the program follows a Learn-Do-Play format that both educates kids and gets them moving. Illustrated workbooks are provided to each child to guide self-directed activity and increase understanding, and program leaders are supplied with all the materials they need to make it an engaging learning experience. It was the completeness of the program that most appealed to Talbert.

"What appealed to us about Wise Kids, apart from its messaging, was that it gave us a turnkey kit with all the tools we would need to run the program, but it was also flexible enough to allow each individual leader to bring their own flair and perspective to it," Talbert said. "This is very important in an after-school program where you might only have the kids for an hour and a half and you need to be very organized and engaging."

Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation used its Web site and news releases to publicize the program, but it had to be selective for the first implementation, which could take place in only five of the 40 sites that host nearly 2,100 children in after-school programs.

To initiate the Corpus Christi program, Hanson met with all of the agency's program leaders to present the key elements of the program. According to Margaret Morin, program manager for the after-school program, it was clear after this training that the spark of creativity was there for the program leaders.