Adults 50+ have many competing interests and other demands on their time. Many are seeking volunteer opportunities that are the right fit, and they’re also taking steps to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle for themselves. Is it possible to do both? All at once? The answer is YES.
Oasis CATCH Healthy Habits gives adults the opportunity to make a difference in their communities and find the incentive they need to become more active and eat better at their own pace. Since 2011, over 2,700 volunteers in 21 cities have contributed over 63,000 hours to teaching children in grades K-5 about becoming more active and eating better.
Many volunteers join the program out of concern about the obesity epidemic that affects children and adults alike. Diane Mundine is one of them.
“After hearing the dismal statistics about child obesity, and having two grandchildren whom I raised with the concept and example of healthy eating and exercise, I knew that this was the right platform for me to share my beliefs,” she says.
Sisters Evelyn Gillespie and Rose Cox, both retired teachers, are also committed to helping children and their families get healthier. “Some of the kids have never seen nor tasted some of the foods we provide (in the program). The kids can influence what their parents buy at the grocery store,” says Rose.
CATCH volunteers are getting through to younger generations, and something else is happening: these adults are motivated to re-evaluate their own lifestyles and make positive changes.
“Since starting the program, I have joined a local gym and am trying to be more consistent with exercise – it’s never too late!” says volunteer Janet Thomas.
Diane Koenig, a cardiac nurse for more than 20 years and the wife of a pediatrician, knew the importance of healthy habits. “But I never practiced them. I was never taught to eat well as a child,” she says. Diane took it upon herself to focus on portion control and removed all of the junk food from her house. Today, she is 100 pounds lighter and is helping share the lessons she has taught herself with the children in the CATCH Healthy Habits program. “By starting with children in kindergarten and 1st grade, you can really make a difference. It amazes me to see how much these kids listen and understand what we’re saying.”
Another common thread among many CATCH Healthy Habits volunteers is how much they value forming friendships with other volunteers.
Jane Qualle sums up her volunteer experience this way: “I think that it’s a very important program…it’s an opportunity to expand your own horizons, a chance to meet a bunch of little kids who are absolutely delightful, a chance to meet a bunch of other volunteers who you’ll become friends with, and a chance to make a difference in a child’s life.”
Evelyn Gillespie agrees, adding that helping others adopt a healthy lifestyle while improving your own is a lifelong commitment. “As long as I’m able to move around, I plan to keep going. I tell the adults the same thing…get up and keep moving. It’s never too late to catch some healthy habits.”
Watch for more information in the coming weeks about Oasis CATCH Healthy Habits. We’ll be sharing a series of fun, inspirational videos, and providing helpful tips for healthy eating and staying active. We hope you’ll enjoy them, and share with your friends, family and others in your network. Stay tuned!