CalFresh Healthy Living (CFHL), UCCE Kern County aims to improve health in farm working families by encouraging healthy eating and physical activity. As a result of a partnership with Head Start centers serving migrant communities, youth completed over 140 hours of physical activity and 92% of adult family members intended to use nutrition facts when shopping.
According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Kern County is ranked among the least healthy counties in California in terms of length and quality of life and a significant portion of residents have one or more risk factors that threaten their longevity and quality of life. For instance, 34% of adults are either overweight or obese, 35% of residents are physically inactive, and 23% are food insecure.
Children and adults with these risk factors are more likely to develop chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
How UC Delivers
In order to work with residents on early healthy start interventions, CFHL, UCCE Kern County partnered with Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), which has five migrant Head Start centers in Kern County. CAPSLO provides no-cost childcare and preschool services to low-income families whose primary occupation is agricultural production and harvesting in the Arvin, Lamont/Weedpatch, Wasco, and Delano communities.
CFHL, UCCE Kern has conducted evening adult nutrition education at the centers.
- 94 parents received evidence based lessons from Plan, Shop, Save, and Cook (PSSC) and Healthy, Happy Families.
- Parents learned how to read the nutrition facts label, save money on food and how to start healthy habits with their children. Parents also learned how to incorporate physical activity in their everyday family routine. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2018)recommends moderate-to-vigorous physical activity to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases among children and adults.
In order to impact families CFHL, UCCE Kern provided CAPSLO teachers with four hour training on Coordinated Approach to Child Health Early Childhood Education (CATCH ECE). CATCH ECE provides children with skill development exercises to develop locomotor, non-locomotor, manipulative skills and nurture their love for physical activity through games and activities. Teachers conducted CATCH 2-4 days per week for 30 minutes.
Seventeen parents who received the PSSC lesson on understanding food labels completed an “Intent to Change” survey. Results of the survey include:
- Of the 12 respondents who did not use the “Nutrition Facts” label prior to the lesson, 92% reported that they will use the nutrition facts on the food label to choose foods the next time they go shopping.
- A parent shared how the workshop helped her family and that they are “eating better and know how to choose foods with better nutrition.”
From August to October 2022, 130 children participated in 143 hours of physical activity through CATCH ECE lessons delivered by 15 teachers at CAPSLO's centers. Research shows that regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces the risk of many chronic diseases among children and adults.
“All my children enjoy the CATCH activities. The CATCH program is fun and beneficial,” one teacher shared. The Center Director said “I really like how teachers and children are physically active with CATCH. The nutrition sessions given to the parents also makes it more impactful for the whole family.”
By motivating and teaching CFHL participants to adopt healthier lifestyle practices, and training ECE teachers to support physical activity, CFHL, UCCE Kern helps create healthier families and communities.
75% of teen-teachers reported being physically active on 5 or more days while gaining confidence and leadership skills through innovative Healthy Choices in Motion programming in San Mateo County.
Increasing physical activity in San Mateo County is vital, as 67% of SNAP-Ed-eligible adults and 23% of SNAP-Ed-eligible children ages 12-17 were overweight or obese in 2019. Additionally, there is a lack of leadership opportunities for teens especially for those in remote school districts in their county.
How UC Delivers
CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California Cooperative Extension (CFHL, UCCE) in San Mateo County sought to address these issues with innovative teens-as-teachers programming in which older youth led younger youth in Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) activities as part of a summer school program. Once a week teens would facilitate approximately 30 minutes of structured physical activity (PA) games that build PA engagement and skills.
While this creative approach was a hit with school teachers and students, CFHL, UCCE looked to further improve the project by increasing their teen-teachers' self-confidence as leaders, as well as their PA knowledge. In response, the UC Davis Center for Nutrition in Schools (CNS) and CFHL, UCCE collaborated to pilot the addition of Healthy Choices in Motion (HCIM) to this innovative teens-as-teachers project in the summer of 2019.
Led by UCCE San Mateo educator Marisela Ceron, five HCIM lessons were taught to increase the teen-teachers' PA knowledge and the understanding of the overall importance of PA before leading CATCH activities for younger youth. HCIM is one of the curricula featured as part of the Shaping Healthy Choices Program, a multi-component, evidence-based intervention that is implemented across California in partnership with CFHL, UCCE. This curriculum features lessons about the benefits of PA, the five components of physical fitness, recommendations across the lifespan, and why a variety of PA is important.
Through this novel programming, teen-teachers were able to gain teaching and leadership experience in their community, in addition to their own growth in the practice of PA and PA knowledge. To assess the success of the addition of HCIM to the existing CATCH teens-as-teachers program, PA knowledge questionnaires were administered before and after the HCIM lessons. Teen teacher surveys and a focus group were conducted near the project's end, after which teen teachers taught one additional CATCH acitivity lesson.The project spanned 1 month in Summer 2019.
Overall, the teen-teachers increased their physical activity and felt that they gained confidence and leadership and life skills. Upon completion of the HCIM lessons, teens significantly increased their PA knowledge (pre = 11.65 ± 2.9; post = 14.70 ± 3.1; p = .001). When asked about their own physical activity engagement in the teen teacher survey, 41.7% of teens that participated in the project reported being physically active for more than 60 minutes 5 days the previous week and 33.3% reported being active all 7 days.
With ample opportunities to gain involvement in leadership and teaching during this project, students were also asked to rate their level of agreement on statements related to engagement and experiences in the program on a four-point Likert scale. Some noteworthy results were: I am more confident in helping others (83.3%) and in myself overall (83.3%), I gained skills through serving my community that will help me in the future (83.3%), I can apply knowledge in ways that solve "real life" problems through community service (75%).
A focus group with the teen-teachers showed common themes and testimonials of enjoyment working with younger students and being more physically active (Table 2).
Being active in childhood is linked to being active as an adult, in addition to improving heart health, mood, sleep, and strengthening muscles and bones (2009 review, 2018 guidelines). In this way, CFHL, UCCE contributes to health for all and the public value of promoting healthy people and communities.
- Author: Ruth Salazar
The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program partnered with Dairy Council of California, Madera County and Public Health for this year's Summer Meals in Madera County. The event's goal was to provide meals to children during the summer as well as provide fun physical activities.
Young girl enjoying her time while playing the parachute activity
The event took place on June 29, 2018 at the McNally Memorial Park in Madera, where they provided information booths and free physical activities. The physical activities took place after the children were given their healthy meal. Staff established an area in the park where CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) activities could take place such as parachute, parade around, and frog on the lily pads. Physical activity games where provided for about 200 children from the age range of K-5th grade.
UC CalFresh staff Austin and Coraima explaining a CATCH activity
Elizabeth competing to capture the flag
During the games, other staff educated children on the MyPlate through games and brochures. While at the booth children were explained the importance of following the MyPlate and incorporating a balanced meal while including the five food groups.
Young boy enjoying himself through the parachute activity
Children showcasing frogs on the lily pad.
- Author: Maira Enriquez
On June 11, 2015 UC Cooperative Extension had an opportunity to attend a C.A.T.C.H (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) training in Chico, CA, hosted by the North Coast and Cascades TRC and presented by Dr. John Krampitz. UC Cooperative Extension believes in innovative team work and expanding their knowledge base. Here they learned new skills to train preschool teachers on ways to implement physical activities in classrooms, involve all children in activities, and encourage healthy eating in the little ones ages 3-5.
“CATCH Early Childhood (CEC) is designed to nurture a love of physical activity, provide an introduction to classroom-based gardening and nutrition. Little ones are motivated to walk, run, jump, dance and move their whole bodies while playing and having fun.”
If you'd like more information regarding C.A.T.C.H and how they can provide a training to your preschools or teachers visit http://catchinfo.org. We look forward to sharing what we learned with teachers in the new school year!
Special thanks to Michele Buran, CSU Chico, NEOP North Coast and Cascades TRC for hosting such a fantastic training!