Organizations Embrace Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Program That Makes Nutrition and Physical Activity Fun for Kids

3.13.2011
CONCORD --Will kids give up fast food and video games? Probably not entirely, but the CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) Kids Club program makes healthy food and physical activity fun for New Hampshire children, grades K-5. The CATCH Kids Club, funded by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, can be found at after-school and community recreation programs run by organizations throughout the state, including Penacook Community Center, Manchester YMCA, Gilford Summer Program, Keene Parks and Recreation, and Concord Boys and Girls Club.

Why is this program so successful?

"CATCH Kids Club works because it is fun for both the kids to participate in and for the staff to implement while teaching healthy eating habits and providing access to 60 minutes of physical activity," says Beth Gustafson Wheeler from the Foundation for Healthy Communities that leads HEAL New Hampshire.

"We've been implementing CATCH Kids Club for a couple of years and it came along at a perfect time when we were restructuring our focus to include more nutritional education and non-competitive physical activity for our members," says Chris Emond, Executive Director of the Concord Boys and Girls Club, serving 1200 children in after-school programs in Concord, Suncook, Hopkinton, and Warner.

"Now CATCH Kids Club is more like a philosophy. It is fully integrated into everything we do in our Club and both the kids and the staff have fully embraced it," explains Emond. "I've even heard kids in the Club talking about it - they are legitimately thinking about what they eat and being active. We are really helping them adopt healthy, life-long habits."

In Keene, the Parks and Recreation Department now has over 70 kids participating in their CATCH Kids Club, where they provide healthy snack options and a variety of all-inclusive games.

"We have a variety of activities so all children get the benefit of the physical activity - See You Later Alligator! is one of their favorites," says Andy Bohannon, Director of the Keene Recreation Center.

"An interesting benefit is that the habits of the staff are changing as a consequence of the CATCH Kids program - as role models they are now eating healthier and are more physically active. That feeds into the family and you can really see changes." This fall, the Keene Recreation Center will be adding the Early Sprouts program, a collaborative effort with Keene State College, to the CATCH Kids Club for a new combined pilot program. Both programs promote healthy eating to children, and CATCH Kids Club also provides access to physical activity.

"HEAL has been instrumental in putting us in a position for where we could combine the Early Sprouts and CATCH Kids Club programs", says Bohannon. "We all have so much on our plates, but they made it an easy collaboration."

The Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) NH Campaign began in 2008 and is led by the Foundation for Healthy Communities, a non-profit New Hampshire organization focused on improving health and healthcare through innovative partnerships. HEAL is supported by a collaboration of foundations and state agencies committed to promoting health and wellbeing for all New Hampshire residents. Funding is provided by HNHfoundation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Endowment for Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, NH Charitable Foundation, and NH Department of Health and Human Services. More information about the HEAL NH campaign can be found at www.healnh.org.

If you would like more information about this topic or would like to schedule an interview, please contact Terry Johnson, Director, HEAL NH at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (603) 415-4273.

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