KCON teams with city parks and recreation

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In an effort to help reduce childhood obesity, the Kirkhof College of Nursing has teamed with Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation to integrate healthy eating and exercise for kids involved in after-school programs.

The program is called CATCH, Coordinated Approach to Child Health. City leaders approved it September 13, allowing CATCH to be implemented in 20 Grand Rapids school buildings and parks that operate after-school programs.

Marilyn Vander Werf, assistant professor of nursing, said this initiative stems from the Project Fit initiative implemented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Michigan State University. In 2010, MSU’s College of Human Medicine approached KCON faculty members to assist with implementing a health curriculum for after-school programs.

“The CATCH program contains the necessary components to support healthy behaviors in children,” Vander Werf said, listing nutrition education, guided activities and family support materials as examples.

Nursing students have been heavily involved in planning CATCH, providing orientation and going to various pilot schools to teach children exercises and healthy eating habits.

“The children were fully engaged, stated they were having fun and enjoyed the activities, retained nutrition information taught, and parents said their children were bringing home information,” Vander Werf said.