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Introducing nutrition education and structured physical activity into daily summer camp programming for young children led to improvements in health behaviors, according to an evaluation conducted this past summer by the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), in cooperation with the Chicago Park District and funding from Kohl’s Cares®.
A study published recently by the American Academy of Pediatrics predicts that more than half of America’s children will be obese by age 35, with poor behaviors developing in childhood. CLOCC, an obesity-focused public health outreach program housed at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, received a two-year $1.1 million grant from Kohl’s to introduce the Consortium’s 5-4-3-2-1 Go! healthy lifestyle message to children in three underserved Chicago communities; Little Village, Englewood and Rogers Park.
The Chicago Park District summer camp counselors at Harrison, Sherman and Willye B. Whyte Parks were trained to incorporate 5-4-3-2-1 Go! into daily camp activities using CLOCC’s curriculum.
After the six-week summer camp program, evaluators observed several changes in child health behaviors in the participating parks:
“We know that kids are more likely to adopt healthy behaviors if they have an understanding of how healthy choices can help them accomplish the things they care about,” said Adam Becker, CLOCC Executive Director. “We also know that messaging needs to be consistent and persistent. That’s why we created this “surround sound” approach to ensure kids would hear and see 5-4-3-2-1 Go! all over their communities.”
The message recommends daily goals for food and physical activity; 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 4 servings of water, 3 servings of low fat dairy, 2 or less hours of recreational screen time and 1 or more hours of physical activity. Posters, flyers, billboards and bus kiosk ads were placed in the three neighborhoods in close proximity to the participating parks to help reinforce the messaging. To enable kids and families to be active, parks were evaluated for equipment condition and safety. An anchor organization in each neighborhood worked with CLOCC to conduct walkability and accessibility assessments for neighboring streets and sidewalks.
In addition, CLOCC teamed with Lurie Children’s Injury Prevention & Research Center, the Chicago Bicycling Ambassadors and local community organizations to distribute nearly 1,000 free bicycle helmets to area youth to promote bicycling and encourage physical activity.
The Consortium will replicate this effort in 2019 in three new parks in the same neighborhoods along with partners at the Chicago Park District, community-based organizations and Lurie Children’s Injury Prevention & Research Center.
Since 2001, Kohl’s has committed nearly $13 million to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital through its philanthropic program, Kohl’s Cares®. When customers purchase Kohl’s Cares merchandise, 100% of net profit is donated to support charitable organizations nationwide. Since the program’s inception in 2000, nearly $340 million has been raised.