CATCH Healthy Habits Helps Kids and Seniors Get Healthy

CATCH Activity PictureSeniors and children are together getting active and healthy thanks to the CATCH Healthy Habits program.

Supported by a two-year, $148,268 grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF), the CATCH Healthy Habits program enlists teams of specially trained older adult volunteers to work with children in after-school and summer programs in school- and community-based settings.

CATCH Healthy Habits is a program offered through VOICE (Volunteers Organized in Community Engagement). VOICE is a program of the Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning.

This evidence-based program has now completed its first year and has exceeded its goals by touching the lives of 318 people in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville.

The CATCH Healthy Habits program has trained 43 older adult volunteers who have provided 275 children (in grades K-5) with a weekly nutrition lesson, a healthy snack and 30 minutes of physical activity.

Data from the sessions held at Brookshire Elementary School and the Winter Park Community Center reported many positive outcomes including an increase in adult and child participant physical activity levels.

Physical activity intensity among older adult volunteers and child-participants was recorded during three sessions by program staff and volunteers using an adaptation of SOFIT (System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time), a validated, reliable instrument designed by Thomas L. McKenzie, Ph.D., Department of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, San Diego State University.

Observed child participants in CATCH Healthy Habits engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) 78% of the time, which is significantly higher than the standard of 50%; this represents a 56% percent change.

Evaluation results also found that the older adult volunteers became more active as a result of the program. During the games portion of the program’s lessons, adult volunteers were observed to engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity 51% of the time, exceeding the 50% standard for programs like CATCH. Moderate activities, such as walking quickly, participating in an aerobics class, or swimming, are defined as those which cause your heart to beat faster than normal, and you can talk during the activity but not sing.

Vigorous activities, such as jogging, running, or playing tennis, cause your heart to beat a lot faster than normal, and you can’t say more than a few words without pausing for a breath. This indicates that among CATCH volunteers in the Winter Park area, the program helps off-set sedentary behavior and increases levels of physical activity that is beneficial to healthy and productive aging.

During the first year, older adults logged 722 volunteer hours valued at nearly $16,000. All older adult volunteers would recommend the program to others and 89% indicated they want to participate in the program again. This may be because they also report feeling appreciated for their service, are satisfied knowing they are contributing to the development of child participants, and they have a renewed sense of purpose as a result of their participation in CATCH Healthy Habits.

Results from the summer sessions held at the Eatonville Boys and Girls Club and the Winter Park Community Center will not be available until next year. Sites for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year are now being selected by grant staff at the Rollins Center for Lifelong Learning.

Please contact Holly Tanyhill, Coordinator, at (407) 646-2459 or [email protected] for more information, or if you are interested in becoming involved in the CATCH Healthy Habits program.