At first, both the volunteers and the children from Reidy Creek School were very quiet. They didn’t know what to expect.
So they answered a health questionnaire, and listened to a story about “Hearty Heart.” They had a snack, but not just any snack. It was “Snackin’ Time on the Trail.” CATCH Healthy Habits was off and running, partner!
Hula hoops and parachutes with balls get children and adults laughing and active. Dragons Tail Tag and See Ya Later Alligator are favorite games. And during the eight week session, the young and the not so young learn how to live a healthier life.
CATCH Healthy Habits pairs teams of adults age 50 plus with kids in grades K to 5. Classes meet once a week for up to 25 sessions. It uses CATCH: Coordinated Approach to Child Health, a proven, kid-tested program to increase healthy behaviors in children. Activities include fun games and exercises, preparing healthy snacks and learning about food choices.
“Being healthy should be fun,” says Bob Widerkehr, one of the first CATCH Healthy Habits volunteers, who likes introducing children to healthy choices. One of the smaller children couldn’t take her eyes off the very tall “Mr. Bob.” “How did you get so big?” she asked. Bob laughed and told her he liked to eat healthy. “I don’t know if I want to grow that much,” she said.
Snacks are always well received by the children, with even the reluctant eater getting into the act. Garden Delight was a favorite. The children made “face” sandwiches, using the bread, lettuce and tomato slice for the head, sprouts for hair, olive circles for eyes, a grape tomato for a nose and pepper strips for a mouth. Possibly a few crumbs were left.
Sharon Singleton organized the program at Reidy Creek School in Escondido. The volunteer team looked to her for leadership and was never disappointed. During the eight weeks, other volunteers noticed she had lost a few pounds.
“Well,” Sharon said. “I can’t tell the children to do something I’m not doing. I need to be a good example!”