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JPPSS Expands Health Promotion Program to 16 More Elementary Schools

CATCH Global Foundation and the Jefferson Parish Public School System will expand implementation of a program that helps kids and parents learn to make healthier food choices and be more active in their daily lives, thanks to a $159,000 grant from the Humana Foundation.

Phase 1 of the “New Orleans CATCH Coordinated School Health Initiative” was successfully piloted in eight elementary schools this past year with an $80,000 grant from the Humana Foundation. Phase 2 of the project will expand the CATCH Program to sixteen more JPPSS schools this fall with the newly announced funding.

“CATCH provides a unique opportunity to expose our elementary students to a comprehensive approach to their health,” said JPPSS Chief Student Support Officer Denise Carpenter. “With the goal to prevent childhood obesity, CATCH infuses nutrition and physical activity into the classroom environment, the family, and the community. It helps our children make better nutritional choices and opt for more physical activity.”

This expansion will add the program to Birney Elementary, C.T. Janet Elementary, Dolhonde Elementary, Douglass Elementary, Ellis Elementary, Estelle School, Greenlawn Terrace Elementary, Harahan Elementary, Harris Elementary, Hazel Park/Hilda Knoff Elementary, Johnson Gretna Park Elementary, Keller Elementary, Marrero Academy, Miller Wall Elementary, Strehle Elementary, and Washington Elementary. Training will take place August 8-9.

As part of the new grant, JPPSS will further institutionalize their school wellness efforts at the district-level with the addition of a part-time CATCH Coordinator who will oversee program implementation across all 24 elementary schools.

“The Humana Foundation is delighted to support the CATCH Global Foundation’s Coordinated School Health Initiative in New Orleans and their impactful work encouraging healthy behaviors among students and parents,” said Pattie Dale Tye, interim executive director of the Humana Foundation. “By improving school health culture, students will be engaged in opportunities to enhance their overall health and well-being, which has been shown to lead to greater success in both school and life.”

Results from Phase 1 showed a 56% increase in time spent being physically active during P.E. class as well as a 23% boost in the number of days per week kids reported being moderately to vigorously physically active. The CATCH Program successfully moved the needle in students’ understanding of the connection between their diet and overall health, which is underscored by a 13% increase in self-reported water consumption.

A report on Phase 1 of the project shows that campuses are implementing CATCH with high fidelity. Health and nutrition lessons are being taught regularly, kids are more physically active during PE classes, there is signage and messaging around the campuses that encourages healthy food choices and active lifestyles, and schools are bringing in parents and engaging them in health-related activities through “Family Fun Nights.”

For example, at Bridgedale Elementary, the food services manager has been using healthy snacks to encourage taste testing and teach nutrition education. And at Boudreaux Elementary, pre-K students are now eating healthy foods from the school garden they helped plant.

“We appreciate the vision and generosity of the Humana Foundation in making this investment,” said CATCH Global Foundation executive director Duncan Van Dusen. “It is a demonstration of their and CATCH’s commitment to the health of the children of New Orleans and an example of the very real impact of the CATCH Promise.”

“If a district has the need and demonstrates a commitment to successfully implement CATCH, we will ensure they get the training, materials, funding, and anything else necessary to make it happen,” said Van Dusen.

CATCH Global Foundation provides the scientifically proven CATCH program to districts like JPPSS that are at the greatest risk for obesity and chronic disease as part of the “CATCH Promise” initiative. This effort targets 75 priority districts across the country, 15 of which currently implement the program.