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Tuesday, September 21, 2004
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Nationally recognized program for building children's health comes to area schools

ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 21, 2004) -- Community Service Programs, a division of Ohio University's College of Osteopathic Medicine (CSP), invites local schools to take part in a program aimed at encouraging school children to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles. To combat the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, CSP is offering training to teachers and school staff Monday, Sept. 27, and Tuesday, Sept. 28, on how to better educate children and their families on the importance of proper nutrition and exercise.

"The population is gaining weight every year," said Nancy Schell, program coordinator for CSP. "In the last 15 years, the number of obese children has doubled. Eighty-three percent of overweight children become overweight adults. Obesity is leading to chronic disease among both children and adults."

A Coordinated Approach to Child Health Implementation Training (CATCH) is a nationally recognized program that builds an alliance of parents, teachers, child nutrition personnel, school staff and community partners to teach children and their families how to be healthy for life. The program is funded by a Champion Grant from General Mills.

CATCH training involves a hands-on workshop that blends the knowledge and practical skills needed for strategic planning and implementation. Training, along with program materials that reinforce the rationale for improving children's health, focuses on four components of building healthier children: physical education, health education in the classroom, school nutrition services, and family education and activities.

"School administrators are realizing the importance of regular physical activity and proper nutrition and how it affects academic and behavioral outcomes. CATCH will provide instruction designed to help schools and our communities make sure we are enabling our kids to have healthy, long lives," said Schell.

The CATCH program has shown that school environments can be structured to promote healthy behavioral changes in children. As published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, CATCH programming in schools helps to reduce the total fat and saturated fat content of lunches, increases moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during physical education classes and improves students' self-reported eating and physical activity.

The CATCH curriculum has been used throughout the country and has been implemented in 1,500 schools in Texas. This free workshop will train school staff to successfully implement CATCH in their school.

Schell invites classroom teachers, food services managers, physical education teachers, administrators, parents, school nurses and counselors to attend the workshop.

"Children need adult role models," she said. "We need to teach adults how to be healthy again."

The workshop is being coordinated by CSP and the Athens City-County Health Department. For more information about CATCH, visit their website at www.catchtexas.org.  

To register for the workshop, please contact Nancy Schell at (740) 593-2293 or schelln@ohio.edu.  

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Media Contact: Writer/Editor Kevin M. Sanders, (740) 593-0896

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