Monday, October 25, 2010

The children are the future and our future needs to be healthy

WHAT: Childhood obesity is a major topic in discussion in today’s society.  With lack of physical activity, overweight children at a greater risk for adulthood health problems. Physical activity patterns of childhood and adolescence begin the lifetime patterns that promote health in adulthood, but unfortunately the evidence indicates that activity declines in adolescence, particularly for females (Gill & Williams, 2008). The main issue is to help these children participate in healthy activities that promote physical activity and well-being. The presence of an after-school program could help spark physical activity patterns within adolescents. The after-school program will be free of charge to the students. Students in this urban and public school district do not have many options for physical activity that would be free. Implementing such a program that the children can attend right after school that is free will give them another option to do something fun that also increases levels of fitness.

SO WHAT: If children that struggle with obesity are not informed on what possible health problems may occur later on, they may just shrug it off and never change their activity patterns before adulthood. Children who do not be come regularly physically active may be at risk for cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and diabetes. Health belief model has considerable support to health behaviors and medical compliance but limited application to exercise and physical activity. This model includes four major components: perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits and perceived barriers (Gill & Williams, 2008). These components can be used in this program. The children need the facts stated to them loud and clear so they know what could possibly happen to them. Children also need to determine on their own that physical activity will be a great benefit for them or else they will not be motivated to participate. Researchers have found that self-efficacy to be a strong predictor of physical activity in various populations, including obese people (Gill & Williams, 2008).  This social-cognitive theory may help increase self-efficacy within these children and will increase the likelihood of them participating in physical activity. The self-determination theory focuses on self-motivation and the social environment. Overweight children participating in similar activities, such as an after-school program, can help optimize attendance for participating in physical activity. Being with similar children may increase their motivation since they all have a similar goal. The social presence of participating with other overweight children will help them feel comfortable enough to participate in physical activity.  The relapse-prevention model helps recognize risk situations and problem solving for the high-risk situations. Drop out rates can be as high as 50% while participating in exercise programs (Gill & Williams, 2008). The children will need to be informed of this fact and way to avoid being another drop out.

NOW WHAT:  I will develop the after-school program around three components. The first one will be academic enrichment. This will be a brief lecture about obesity facts. Giving the children a good understanding of what is going on and that how their physical activity can affect their health in adulthood, both negatively and positively. Participants will also be informed of drop rates and ways to avoid those trends. The participants will be given out a daily health tip as well as a handout over the lesson for that current day. They will also be given a binder so that they can keep anything given to them. This binder will act as a health handbook for them.  The second component will be to give out healthy snacks along with the brief lecture. This way the kids can learn that these snacks are good for them as well getting the healthy snack they need after school rather than eating candy or any other form of an unhealthy snack. Each day of the program will consist of a healthy snack and it will be printed out. The print out will tell how to make it and include its supplement facts. The participants can then keep this in their binder so they can put together a healthy snack book. They will be allowed to bring this home so that their parents can look over it and possibly keep some of these snacks on hand at home. The last component will be the physical activity, which will take up most of the programs time.  School-age youth should participate in 60minutes or more moderate to vigorous physical activity that is developmentally appropriate, enjoyable, and involves a variety of activities (ARTICLE). In this, the participants will start off with a healthy warm-up to minimize risk of injury. Each day will focus on a different activity then the previous day. This will help the kids stay motivated to come back to see what the next days activity will be. Each activity will be tailored to be more fun than more physically exhausting. The activities will involve the participants to be socially active, which will help increase their motivation and self-efficacy. The social aspect of being able to participate with similar overweight children will release the fear of competition like most sports and they will focus more on having fun and getting good exercise.

CONCLUSION: In conclusion, the main issue presented was adolescent obesity. This is a major problem in today’s society. After-school programs that are free for inner city children are a great way to help increase physical activity patterns. Positive change may increase for the children by giving them some information about obesity, a healthy snack, and some fun activities. Hopefully the process of programs like this can be created all over the nation so that we can start to reverse this occurrence of obesity in children. The children are the future and our future needs to be healthy.


Gill, D. L., & Williams, L. (2008) Psychological Dynamics of Sport and Exercise (3rd. Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Strong, W., Malina, R., Blimkie, C., Daniels, S., & Dishman, R. (2005) Evidence based physical activity for school-age youth. The Journal of Pediatics, 146(6), 732-737.

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