AU Institute for Collaboration programs promoting fitness for Kane County kids
The Institute for Collaboration at Aurora University is helping Kane County move closer to its goal of having the healthiest residents in the state by 2020.
As part of the Making Kane County Fit for Kids campaign, the Institute organized several events and activities last year aimed at reducing childhood obesity. Launched in 2008, the county-led initiative brings together community leaders to implement systems, policy and environmental changes needed to reverse the epidemic.
Aurora University is supporting the campaign through the following programs sponsored by the Institute for Collaboration and a Fit for Kids grant from Kane County.
Thirteen Aurora University students were trained to teach Robert Crown Center for Health Education’s “Express Yourself” program. This program helps teenage girls understand messages they receive about body image, peer pressure, eating habits, self-esteem and decision-making. Almost 100 middle school girls from the Communities In Schools MyTime after-school program were taught the following concepts by the AU students under the direct guidance of a Robert Crown Center Health Educator:
- Strategies to develop and maintain a positive sense of self — feelings about who they are and what they look like inside and out — in order to make healthy decisions.
- Critical thinking skills to positively navigate media messages and peer influences that may negatively impact their behavior, eating habits, self-esteem and decision-making.
- Communication skills, including self-expression, that support positive feelings and images about who they are.
Top Chef Salad Competition
Local middle school students in the Communities In Schools MyTime after-school program participated in Top Salad Chef Competition sponsored by Pockets Restaurants of Aurora on two nights in December. The contest was part of a program to teach students about healthy eating, with the winning salad being placed on the Pockets menu for three months. In preparation for the competition, AU nursing students led an interactive presentation on healthy food choices at participating schools, and senior Emma Hill designed reference materials promoting healthy fruits and vegetables.
Fox Valley Park District Workout Program
Middle school students in the Communities In Schools MyTime after-school program participate in an exercise program on a rotating basis throughout the week. Students are tested in cardiovascular performance, balance stability, coordination and agility, and upper and lower body strength. Park district trainers educate the students on the reasoning behind each exercise and how working out helps people live healthy lifestyles.
All three programs started in September 2011 and run through April 2012. The partners involved include the Institute for Collaboration, Aurora University School of Nursing, Communities In Schools, Fox Valley Park District, Pockets Restaurants and Robert Crown Center for Health Education.
A full research report will be available on the Institute for Collaboration website in April 2012.
The Kane County “Fit for Kids” initiative began in 2008 in response to the fact that one in six Kane children under 18 years of age are obese, a rate that more than doubles for Hispanic and African-American children. The initiative engages community members and leaders from across the county to develop a comprehensive assessment of the changes needed in their communities to promote healthy living and prevent childhood obesity. This resulting vision will be incorporated in the county’s master land use and transportation plan updates.