August 10, 2016
The CATCH Global Foundation and Jefferson Parish Schools will help increase physical activity and healthy eating, reduce childhood obesity and promote healthy school and community environments among 4,200 kindergarten through fifth-grade students under an $80,000 charitable grant provided by the Humana Foundation. The Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) will be part of the community coalition supporting the effort.
The project, called the New Orleans CATCH Coordinated School Health Initiative, will enhance healthy nutrition and physical activity for students in eight Jefferson Parish Public School System elementary schools while assisting the schools in meeting many of the requirements outlined in the school district’s wellness policy. Louisiana has the fourth-highest rate of obese children in the nation, according to the National Survey of Children’s Health, and the school system serves a large number of children at risk for higher rates of obesity.
“Research has shown that teaching children about healthy habits at a young age can have an impact by helping prevent health issues later in life. More so, students who have healthy and physically active lifestyles also have better attendance rates,” said Issac Joseph, Superintendent of the Jefferson Parish Public School System. “Many of our students already face health risk factors because they are minorities or come from low-income households. This project will help support them in learning and sustaining a healthy lifestyle.”
The CATCH project will provide training, resources and support that build each school’s capacity to continually improve and sustain coordinated school health efforts. The project also will teach children how to put into everyday practice the skills they learn. For example, one lesson teaches fifth-graders about the relationship between target heart rate and physical activity by having them calculate their heart rates before and after physical activity. In second grade, lessons include identifying healthful eating, exercising and and reading nutrition labels. Other lessons touch on topics such as the importance of eating breakfast, snacking and types of physical activity.
“I’m excited to work with CATCH and the Louisiana Public Health Institute to bring this program to my students,” said Janeen Weston, the Principal of William Hart Elementary School, of the eight participating schools in the CATCH program. “The effectiveness of CATCH’s Coordinated School Health Program is demonstrated by more scientific evidence than other similar programs. It has been shown to reduce fat content in school lunches, increase physical activity levels during P.E. classes and improve students’ own eating and physical activity habits outside of school.”
Changes include increasing the length and quality of physical activity in and outside of school, promoting and serving healthier foods in school cafeterias, providing greater family support for healthy eating and being active, supporting school policy changes, and using common language for reinforcing healthy living across school, home and the community.
“The Humana Foundation is delighted to support the CATCH Global Foundation’s Coordinated School Health Initiative in New Orleans and their wonderful work encouraging healthy behaviors among youth,” said Virginia Kelly Judd, Executive Director of the Humana Foundation. “By improving the school health culture, students will be engaged in health and well-being opportunities, which have been shown to lead to greater success in school and life.”
The Jefferson Parish schools participating in the program include: Cherbonnier –Rillieux, Geraldine Boudreaux, William Hart, Vic Pitre, Chateau Estates, Bissonet Plaza, Clancy-Maggiore School for the Arts and Bridgedale Elementary.
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