Local seniors gathered at Rollins College recently to reconnect with hula hoops, practice teaching each other games like Simon Says and learn a variety of other activities they can use to inspire kids to latch onto healthy habits that will serve them for a lifetime.
It’s all part of a nationally renowned intergenerational program called Oasis CATCH Healthy Habits which involves matching senior volunteers with children in grades K-5 in after-school programs so they can teach children about healthy eating habits and play active games.
Rollins’ Center for Lifelong Learning (RCLL) is recruiting older adult volunteers for the program as part of VOICE (Volunteers Organized in Community Engagement). It recently established VOICE with the support of a $148,268 grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF).
RCLL was established in 2013, also with the support of WPHF, to offer noncredit courses to benefit older adult residents of Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville, and other local communities. Senior students expressed an interest in meaningful volunteer work, so VOICE was created to address community issues beginning with childhood obesity.
The volunteers, who were participating in training at Rollins led by staff from Oasis CATCH Healthy Habits, will be in charge of training other volunteers locally. The program will then be offered to students at a few after-school programs this fall. The sites have not yet been finalized.
CATCH, which stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health, is an evidence-based and nationally-recognized program that has involved more than 10,000 children and 1,600 age 50-plus volunteers across the country since 2011.
“We are so pleased to support the CATCH program because it offers a win-win approach to dealing with childhood obesity,” said Debbie Watson, WPHF Vice President. “The program promises to not only instill healthy habits among the children served, but also boost the physical and mental health of the volunteers. It is the best of both worlds.”