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United Way Funds “Crunch Out Obesity” Pilot Program for Select City and County Schools

Findlay City Schools and the Hancock County Education Services Center will be the recipient of a grant from United Way of Hancock County for a pilot nutrition and exercise program. The schools that will participate are Lincoln Elementary, Bigelow Hill, McComb and Cory Rawson. The board approved the grant at its monthly meeting on Thursday, December 18. The board approved a grant of $10,000 to serve 498 children. The grant will cover all costs associated with the program which includes exercise balls for each child and each school, as well as exercise and nutrition journals for each child. The program will be presented to children in 4th and 5th grades. Incentives are provided for children who complete the journals and who submit an essay. The incentives will be presented at a special ceremony at the end of the pilot program. Prizes may include gift cards to sporting goods stores and family trips to Cedar Point or similar family friendly venues
“Poverty and obesity often go hand in hand so the schools selected have a higher number of students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program, receiving free or reduced price lunches,” said John Urbanski, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Hancock County.
Each physical education teacher also receives a set of exercise balls for their classroom. For three, two-week cycles, teachers in the home classrooms work with students on completing their personal exercise and nutrition journal while physical education teachers work closely with their students on exercise examples found in their exercise booklet. Students are also educated on the nutrition and health program. Students write an essay at the end of these cycles called “I am Living Healthy”. These essays are graded 75% for content and 25% for writing skills. These will be presented to the United Way of Hancock County for judging.
The program was developed by a collaborative group led by United Way of Ashland County in Ashland, Ohio. With the Crunch out Obesity program, students have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain at school in a fun way making it a non-intrusive gateway for entering the home. Through this program, students can practice the exercises learned at school, engage their family members as they record their food habits in their journal and begin a pattern or healthy habit that will promote wellness. Each student will participate in pre and post testing to measure results of the program.
The program will be funded from the United Way of Hancock County’s reserve funds that were set aside earlier this year to address issues brought to the forefront from the 2014 Community Needs Assessment.
“In our community, childhood obesity is a growing concern. Our local obesity coalition recognizes the importance of reinforcing the education students receive at school in regard to healthy lifestyles, diet and exercise. Often the knowledge gained at school does not transfer to the home. Without reinforcement in the home or the opportunity to apply the knowledge they are receiving from school, lifestyle and habit changes are unlikely,” said Heather Heilman, United Way of Hancock County’s grants coordinator.
The pilot program will begin in January 2015. The intent is to support the program in all schools in Hancock County in the future.