St. Louis, Missouri - May 18, 2015 - A recent blog by New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, co-chair of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, highlighted the progress underway in bringing physical activity back to America’s schools just five short years after the launching of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. More than 14,000 schools and champions have signed up to get children to be more active and eat healthier.
One of those champions, a program called CATCH Healthy Habits, is taking the concept a step further. Operated by The Oasis Institute in partnership with local schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCAs, Parks & Recreation departments, and other agencies in 21 cities in 17 states, CATCH Healthy Habits engages adult volunteers, age 50 and up, to teach young school age children the benefits of regular physical activity and good nutrition. In the process, results show both generations are learning and adopting healthier behaviors that will help reduce obesity and improve their quality of life.
“In only five years, CATCH Healthy Habits has become the nation’s largest evidence-based, intergenerational program that improves the health and well-being of thousands of both children and older adults,” stated Marcia Kerz, Oasis Institute president. More than 23,500 children and 8,800 older adults have participated in Oasis CATCH Healthy Habits since 2011, through its unique design of uniting caring adult volunteers to inspire children to adopt healthy eating and physical activity habits for a lifetime.
During weekly sessions, both generations have fun playing active games, learning about nutrition through hands-on activities, and preparing and eating delicious healthy snacks. Volunteers share their own experiences as they teach the difference between WHOA foods, foods that should be enjoyed moderately or sometimes, and GO foods, including fruits and vegetables that can be enjoyed anytime. Healthy snacks like Fruit Kabobs, Cereal of the Stars and Ants on a Stick, and active games called Leapin’ Lizards, Can't Touch This and The Snail Trail appeal to all ages and add a sense of adventure to the learning.
National results show that the program is having a positive impact on both children and adults. Sixty-five percent of children and 81% of adults met or exceeded CDC physical activity recommendations, with both generations eating more fruits and vegetables, engaging in more frequent exercise, and sharing healthy eating and active living habits with friends and family members as a result of participating in the program.
“This unique program helps children and older adults adopt healthy lifelong habits that include regular physical activity and good nutrition,” explained Shellie Pfohl, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. “We are proud to work with organizations like Oasis that are dedicated to increasing physical activity and good nutrition for all generations. Our mission to help all Americans lead healthy, active lives is enhanced by the work that our partners do in this space.”
Among Oasis CATCH Healthy Habits volunteers, close to three out of four (74%) reported that their health improved from fair or poor to good and three out of ten (30%) reported engaging in activities that increased muscle strength. Other outcomes included improved flexibility and improved balance, which help reduce the risk of injury due to falls among older adults.
The after school and summer program aligns with the Let's Move! Campaign’s goals and meets National Health Education Standards. It is funded nationwide by Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc.
Oasis is a national education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of adults age 50 and older. For more information on Oasis CATCH Healthy Habits, go to www.catchhealthyhabits.org.
For tips on ways to be active, visit www.fitness.gov and the National Physical Fitness and Sports Month toolkit page at healthfinder.gov/NHO/MayToolkit.aspx.