The CATCH Global Foundation and the Jefferson Parish Public School System will help increase physical activity and healthy eating, reduce childhood obesity, and promote healthy school and community environments among 4,200 kindergarten through fifth-grade students under an $80,000 charitable grant provided by the Humana Foundation. The Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI) will be part of the community coalition supporting the effort.
The project, called the New Orleans CATCH Coordinated School Health Initiative, will enhance
healthy nutrition and physical activity for students in eight JPPSS elementary schools while assisting the schools in meeting many of the requirements outlined in the school district’s wellness policy.
“Research has shown that teaching children about healthy habits at a young age can have an impact by helping prevent health issues later in life. More so, students who have healthy and physically active lifestyles also have better attendance rates,” said Issac Joseph, Superintendent of the Jefferson Parish Public School System.
The CATCH project will provide training, resources, and support that build each school’s capacity to continually improve and sustain coordinated school health efforts. The project also will teach children how to put into everyday practice the skills they learn. The project is part of CATCH’s Coordinated School Health Program, which includes the following components:
- Classroom lessons for each grade level on nutrition, physical activity, and screen time reduction.
- Enhanced physical education instruction and activities
- Guidance and resources for creating a school nutrition environment that promotes healthy foods and reinforces classroom learning
- The CATCH Coordination Kit, which provides a concrete plan and necessary tools to actively engage administrators, teachers, nutrition staff, parents, and community constituents
- Program implementation training, technical assistance, and evaluation support
For example, one lesson teaches fifth-graders about the relationship between target heart rate and physical activity by having them calculate their heart rates before and after physical activity. In second grade, lessons include identifying healthful eating, exercising and and reading nutrition labels. Other lessons touch on topics such as the importance of eating breakfast, snacking and types of physical activity.
“I’m excited to work with CATCH and the Louisiana Public Health Institute to bring this program
to my students,” said Janeen Weston, the Principal of William Hart Elementary School, one of the eight participating schools in the CATCH program. “The effectiveness of CATCH’s Coordinated School Health Program is demonstrated by more scientific evidence than other similar programs. It has been shown to reduce fat content in school lunches, increase physical activity levels during P.E. classes and improve students’ own eating and physical activity habits outside of school.”
The Jefferson Parish schools participating in the program include: Cherbonnier/Rillieux Elementary, Boudreaux Elementary, Hart Elementary, Pitre Elementary, Chateau Estates School, Bissonet Plaza Elementary, Clancy-Maggiore Elementary, and Bridgedale Elementary.
CATCH’s Coordinated School Health Program is based on the Centers for Disease Control’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model in which health education, school environment and family/community involvement work together to support youth in a healthy lifestyle. The CATCH program builds alliances of parents, teachers, child nutrition personnel, school staff and community partners to teach children to make healthful decisions and to create changes in the environment that support these decisions.