In a new program for 6th, 7th and 8th graders, called "Keep the Beat," participants met with staff from the Madison-Mayodan Recreation Department once a week to learn about physical activity and proper nutrition. In terms of physical activity, staff kept participants busy during the program but also encouraged them to start thinking seriously about developing their own individual physical activity plan to follow after the program ended. Participants pledged to exercise on their own for 2 hours a week in addition to the time they spent in the program. With input from the participants, the staff sought to combine familiar and new activities in the program schedule so that the youth had a wide variety of activities to incorporate into their individual activity plan. By the end of the program, the youth had participated in bowling, swimming, hiking, roller skating, and step aerobics.
To help increase the participants' knowledge of nutrition, a representative from the Rockingham County Health Department spoke to the group about general nutrition. The participants then put their new knowledge to use in two games. In "My Personal Pizza" game, each person designed his or her dream nutritious pizza; the other game focused on fitness and nutrition trivia. The local hospital gave presentations on topics such as dieting and eating disorders. The recreation department "took the show on the road" by featuring a smart shopping day where children visited both a local supermarket to learn how to read food labels and search for healthy alternatives and a local restaurant to learn how to stay healthy while eating out and socializing with friends. The restaurant provided nutritional information to the group members in order to demonstrate the connection between what they eat and how it fits into a healthy lifestyle.
The seniors in Madison-Mayodan were also exposed to nutrition and heart-healthy activities this past summer. The recreation department took an existing senior physical activity program which met twice a week, added another day to the program, and focused on health education in addition to exercise. Participants were asked to keep a fitness log and to exercise on their own in addition to the scheduled program. Partnerships with Rockingham Health Department, Anne Penn Hospital, and the Rockingham Cooperative Extension Service were developed. Some of the presentations included topics such as maintaining a healthy weight and diabetes and its relationship to diet and physical activity. One presentation was even titled "Old Hearts Old Parts." The health department conducted cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and body fat screenings for the program participants. The seniors commented on how much they enjoy being healthy and staying active. Each week they made comments about something new they had learned and how much healthier they felt. The seniors were very enthusiastic about the health partners that they had learned about in the community and wanted to know more about getting assistance from them.