All Southington Children are Healthy

Students Meeting the Standard on All Four Physical Fitness Tests, Grade 4

2472016

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Story Behind the Curve

Fourth Grade Physical Fitness

The four physical fitness tests that are used to measure success of fourth grade students meeting the standard on the physical fitness tests are:

1) the mile run,

2) curl-ups,

3) push-ups, and

4) sit n reach.

HEPA Program (Healthy Eating Physical Activity)

The YMCA in Southington, through their Activate Southington program, is currently implementing some of the Healthy Eating Physical Activity (HEPA) standards that have been created from Y USA in their aftercare programs. Part of the physical activity standards is that children are receiving at least 30 mins of physical activity. In the Southington Y programs, this standard is exceeded by providing 45 to 60 minutes of physical activity in the form of structured games as well as free play for the children in elementary school before and aftercare programs. The physical activity is shared between the gymnasium and outside space.

With regard to the healthy eating portion, the Y USA HEPA program outlines those standards as well. Implementation of those standards includes offering 1% milk and/or water with every snack. The Y in Southington includes as many healthy options of snacks as possible for elementary school before and aftercare programs including fruits, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, whole grain crackers, etc. Water is also always available to the children during programming as well. In addition, the Y programs limit use of electronic devices so children are not sedentary playing their games.

The Y has indentified some current struggles with the Healthy Eating standards of the HEPA program:

The standards indicate that a fruit or vegetable to be offered as an option at every snack time. This is appearing to be difficult for the program as our program spaces do not currently have the storage units available to store that many fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, the cost of purchasing that many fruits and vegetables has a significant impact on the childcare snack allowance. Also, fresh fruits and vegetables tend to spoil quickly and there is concern about food going to waste. Since the fruit/vegetable is currently provided as an option, in addition to other snacks (ex: cheese, yogurt and whole grain crackers) there is concern that many children will not choose the fruit or vegetable and then that would allow for it to become waste as well.

The implementation of some of these standards has been both easy and difficult. The Southington YMCA has committed to Y USA to implement these standards into their programs. However, the logistics of implementing all of the HEPA standards are still being worked through.

The HEPA standards from Y USA are being implemented though out all of the Y's Child Care departments including School Age (before and aftercare), Preschool, and Nursery School. At this time, there are no plans to introduce this program to the public schools.

Affordable and well-run before & after care school programs are essential to the health and wellbeing of school aged children. Nationwide, children six & under spend roughly the same amount of time using screen media as they do playing outside (an average of about two hours a day) and only an average of 39 min. reading. (Connecticut State Dept. of Education School Wellness Policy Report 2007-08)

Activate Southington

Activate Southington is town-wide initiative funded through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The grant program is administered by the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Activate Southington is supported by a leadership team representing the greater Southington community.

Activate Southington is a collaboration between town, business and community leaders to identify opportunities to improve our community and take positive steps toward a healthy lifestyle. Activate Southington’s mission is to improve the overall health and wellness of Southington residents, and decrease the incidence of childhood obesity, by providing opportunities for active living, healthy eating, and physical activity.

The Activate Southington team has established four initial objectives to meet the overall mission of the initiative. The objectives are to:

  • Provide government and private sector support for healthy eating and active living initiatives;
  • Make healthy food choices available, readily accessible and affordable to all residents;
  • Create an environment where active living and physical activity is a part of everyday life; and
  • Work with school system to improve School Wellness Policy

Also of note is that Southington has a local Farmer's Market that runs every Friday afternoon on the green in the center of town from July through October. Activate Southington is continuing to work with the Farmer's Market toward expansion opportunities.

In addition, some other Activate Southington initiatives that are underway include:

•Providing healthy food choices at all town events

•Establishing community gardens

•Improving sidewalks and creating a pedestrian-friendly downtown

•Creating bicycle-safe routes and safe pathways to neighborhood schools

BENEFITS OF THE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE CLASSROOM (PAC) INITIATIVE IN SOUTHINGTON:

Increases energy levels

Improves student concentration, retention, and behavior

Blends seamlessly into current lessons to make learning both engaging and fun

Promotes self-esteem

Stimulates youthful imagination

Strengthens the desire and need for healthy living

Shown to help boost academic performance

The Physically Active Classroom operates in conjunction with the Activate Southington Initiative. The PowerPoint presentation about the Physically Active Classroom is attached below.

It is intended that Physically Active Classrooms will place our children and our schools in the forefront of a town-wide collaboration to be modeled in Connecticut.

NOTE: The Physically Active Classroom is also referred to in Southington as the Physically Active School System (PASS).

Partners

Activate Southington (www.activatesouthington.org)

Southington Public Schools...Physical Education Instructors (www.southingtonpublicschools.org)

Southington Parks and Recreation Department (www.southington.org/ParksRec)

Southington Community YMCA (www.sccymca.org)

Southington Community YMCA Camp Sloper (www.ymcacampsloper.org)

Southington is fortunate to have a comprehensive non-profit organization called Bread for Life. This organization works with the town to address the hunger needs of Southington's residents. As a result, they have partnered with Southington's elementary schools to offer breakfast to those K-5 students in need.

What Works
Strategy

Have local pediatricians be more proactive in their approach to talking with parents about their child's weight.

Preschools, Family Resource Center and other community organizations (Activate Southington) offer workshops for parents on healthy meal preparation and healthy eating choices.

Partner with participants in the Farmers Market and at Rogers Orchards to have a table with kid friendly fruits and vegetables to purchase.

Encourage parents and children to choose water instead of juice, soda or flavored milks.

Investigate the parameters of the Let's Move Child Care Program.

Investigate the parameters of the Yoga for Kids Program.

Collaborate with the YMCA to be informed about the success of the full implementation of the HEPA Program and whether or not it can be expanded to the public schools.

Investigate if BMI (Body Mass Index) information is captured on kindergarten intake forms. Work with the Superintendent, public elementary school nurses, and the SPS IT department to capture and report this data. Partner with other Discovery Communities to obtain best practices for how to capture and report this data. Consider hiring a college intern, if deemed necessary, to sort through this data to determine BMI of kindergartners as determined by gender, age, height and weight.

Partner with local schools to have indoor physical activity ideas to do in case of inclement weather and then consistently do them.

Continue to partner with Activate Southington and all of the programming they are doing to support the physical and heathly eating initiatives for children.

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