Chattanooga's Kids on the Block Helps in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity
(Chattanooga, TN 9/22/09) Brenda says, "Physical activity helps strengthen a person's muscles, bones and joints." Zach replies, "So you want me to hold you feet in place while you do some sit ups?" Brenda responds, "No. I don't have to do sit ups, ‘cause there's all kinds of ways to be active! Sometimes I do fun stuff like playing with friends. Other times I help my mom out with chores around the house and everything." Zach says, "....What for?" Brenda replies, "......some of the chores, like raking leaves or taking out the trash can be good exercise."
This is just a small part of the Chattanooga's Kids on the Block educational puppet performance on childhood obesity awareness, Kids on the Move, funded in part by the United Way and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.
The program is presented to fifth grade students in the 12 county area of Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia served by Chattanooga's Kids on the Block. "The program was developed to help children better understand the relationship between food and physical movement and their effects on weight and health," said Kelly Williams, Executive Director of Chattanooga's Kids on the Block.
"Through this two-script program the focus is on choosing to eat healthier snacks, to cut back on, not eliminate the candies and most important that to exercise is not just about lifting weights or going to a gym, but about physical movement, including doing chores, playing with friends and taking the stairs," said Ms. Williams.
The educational puppet program consists of two scripts: "Fruit Stand" and "Don't Just Sit There, Do Something", and features four puppets: Brenda Dubrowski, Zach Jones, Jason Robinson and Michael Riley. In "Fruit Stand" Brenda, Michael and Jason must work together on a school assignment designing a store or other place that sells things. After coming up with the idea for a fruit and vegetable stand, as an alternative to a bake sale, they decide to set one up at school to raise money for a field trip. They discuss the importance of fruits and vegetables and trying new foods. In "Don't Just Sit There, Do Something," Zach visits his friend Brenda. Zach likes to play video games and be a "couch potato" until Brenda shows him different ways to move and be active and the importance of physical activity in his daily life. The performance also includes interaction between the puppets and the children. Children take part in a movement exercise with the puppets and have the opportunity to ask questions about healthy snacking and physical activity. Follow up materials are provided for each child and resource information is provided as take home materials for parents.
"With the alarming rise in obesity and the health related issues that arise, it is important that we (Chattanooga's Kids on the Block) as advocates for children in promoting safety and health, do all we can to help bring about awareness and change toward healthier choices," said Ms. Williams.
Last year, Chattanooga's Kids on the Block performed 40 educational programs on childhood obesity awareness, reaching over 4,000 children and adults in our service area. According to Ms. Williams, following each performance children write letters to the puppets to help evaluate the success of the program through changes in attitude, knowledge and behavior. One fifth grader wrote: "Today, I learned about obesity. I learned that you need to exercise for at least 60 minutes a day. This will help your joints, muscles and heart. Eating healthy will also help you. Getting 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is something else I learned. I also learned of many different things that I didn't know were exercises like cleaning your room. Thank you for coming! P.S. I liked the dance we did." Another fifth grader wrote: "I liked how you told us how you could have fun by exercising, dancing, playing games and chores. When I get home I'm playing and eating healthy."
"This school year, through the funding provided by United Way and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, we hope to provide more Kids on the Move programs in our community to help fight against childhood obesity," said Ms. Williams.
For more information or to book a performance, please call Chattanooga's Kids on the Block at (423) 757-5259, or Contact Us here.