- Author: Beatriz Adrianna Rojas
Thirty-two preschool young children of migrant families increased physical activity after participating in program partnership between CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Kern and Las Mariposas Head Start.
According to KidsData, Kern County has a food insecurity rate that is higher than the state average at 23.8% compared to California's overall rate of 18%. Obesity rates are also high. Almost 74% of Kern County adults are either overweight or obese. Further, 2018 data from Department of Education Physical Fitness tests indicated that Kern fifth graders overweight or obese rates were 5% higher than the state average at 44.9%.
Kern County also has a large population of migrant families. Las Mariposas Head Start is a state preschool and seasonal migrant head start center located in Delano, California. The seasonal migrant program provides no cost childcare and preschool services to low-income families whose primary income is from agricultural production or harvesting.
How UC Delivers
To proactively address creating health lifestyles, administrators and staff at Las Mariposas Head Start collaborated with CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Kern (CFHL, UCCE Kern) and implemented Coordinated Approach to Child Health Early Childhood Education (CATCH ECE). CFHL, UCCE Kern staff provided teachers with a four hour CATCH ECE training and technical assistance twice per month. Teachers expressed their appreciation for the CATCH ECE Kit and technical assistance indicating that the program helped teachers nourish the love for physical activity in their students.
CFHL, UCCE Kern also provided 55 parents with Plan, Shop, Save, and Cook food resource management lessons. During the lessons, parents are reminded about the importance of physical activity, and are given recommendations based on the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Both the children and the parents receive vital lessons to reduce obesity through physical activity coupled with healthy nutrition.
From October 2019 to August 2020, 32 students received a total of 98.25 hours of structured physical activity using CATCH ECE curriculum. CFHL, UCCE Kern staff also provided five hours of food resource management lessons to parents. Both of the teachers stated they are using CATCH materials during free play to encourage students to stay active.
As a result of this program, 32 students increased structured physical activity to 3-5 times per week compared to their initial 2-3 times. Teachers have observed the students increasing their physical activity and the teachers also shared that they have increased their own physical activity. Research has shown that physical activity can provide immediate benefits and reduce the chances of being diagnosed with chronic diseases. In this way, the program contributes to improved individual health and the public value of promoting healthy people and communities.