South Bend, Indiana
South Bend Parks and Recreation Department offers comprehensive, high-quality, and affordable leisure opportunities to its community including sports, arts, fitness, nutrition, community events, instructional classes, and facilities for all ages.
The department was a Hearts N’ Parks Magnet Center for three years and was excited to continue as a We Can!™ Intensive Site. Working with its recreation center, day camp, and fitness supervisor, South Bend provided parent and youth curricula and several well-attended community outreach events.
South Bend also engaged two special events supervisors to assist with its community events. South Bend organizers secured some highly motivated partners that became very involved in their programs and events, which helped open the door to healthy eating habits for its entire community.
Key Site Successes
South Bend worked very hard to get its community involved with We Can! and adopt the healthy attitudes and behaviors that the program promotes.
The site participated in six community events that attracted more than 10,000 community members, generated local media coverage, and fostered partnerships with several organizations in the community. The events included -
South Bend held a press conference to kick off We Can! and prepared press releases to help promote all of its community events. Local CBS and NBC affiliates covered several events including the launch press conference.
South Bend’s site organizers developed relationships with six community partners to help implement its program. Martin’s Supermarket provided food for chef demonstrations, as well as $150.00 in gift cards for each day camp site for healthy snacks. The Chef’s Association presented healthy cooking demonstrations at community events and at parent education sessions.
The Dairy Nutrition Council provided educational materials on dairy products, as well as speakers for parent education programs. Purdue University Extension Office of St. Joseph County provided nutritional and family budgeting expertise and also provided experts who spoke to parents in the site’s education programs.
Memorial Hospital provided speakers for the youth curricula. St. Joseph County Health Department also provided speakers and educational materials.
We Can! Energize Our Families: Curriculum for Parents and Caregivers
Starting in October 2005, South Bend launched two implementations of the six-lesson We Can! Parent Curriculum—developed by We Can! specifically for parents and caregivers—in weekly sessions at Holy Cross Parish School and the O’Brien Center, a community center.
In all, 31 parents including 15 women and 16 men signed up to gain essential skills that help families make healthful food choices and become more physically active. South Bend found it challenging to recruit parents to the program; most parents simply had a hard time fitting the program into their already busy schedules.
Its greatest success came from having members of the Chef’s Association provide demonstrations of healthy cooking tips and techniques.
An analysis of 11 complete questionnaires found statistically significantly increases in energy balance knowledge; portion size behaviors; healthy eating behaviors; healthy food behaviors; and physical activity knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.
By the end of the Parent Curriculum, parents reported increased knowledge of the ways to maintain a healthy weight and reported increases in healthier food behaviors including controlling and monitoring portion sizes, acting as a role model for healthier eating, making healthier foods more available, and ensuring that foods high in fat and sugar are less available. Parents also increased their knowledge about physical activity, perceived fewer barriers to engaging in physical activity, and more often encouraged and participated in physical activity on their own or with their family members.
The analysis also suggested movement toward We Can! objectives related to energy balance attitudes; portion size knowledge and attitudes; healthy eating attitudes; and screen time knowledge and attitudes.
CATCH Kids Club
South Bend implemented the CATCH Kids Club Curriculum—designed for children in grades K–5 in after-school or summer-care settings to encourage healthier dietary and physical activity behaviors—four times at community centers throughout the community. In all, 124 children aged 8–14 including 67 girls and 57 boys received nutrition lessons, participated in physical activities, and learned recipes for making healthy snacks.
South Bend implemented CATCH as part of an existing summer camp program that met every weekday throughout the summer. CATCH participants quickly caught on to CATCH and found the program to be fun and exciting.
In fact, once kids understood the basic format of the program the kids themselves facilitated the physical activities. South Bend especially liked that all the kids were involved and found it helped children bond with one another. In terms of the nutrition components of CATCH, South Bend found that the children were excited to learn about eating better and wanted to do so. Unfortunately, healthier foods were not always available in their neighborhoods.
While South Bend found that children’s home-brought snacks became healthier over the course of the summer, they hope to support families in the future by suggesting places where parents can purchase more affordable fruits and vegetables or by providing coupons to parents for the purchase of fruits and vegetables.
An analysis of 41 complete questionnaires found statistically significantly increases in food attitudes: self-efficacy and healthy eating behaviors: eating fiber. Statistically significant decreases were found in screen time behaviors: weekday TV time.
At the end of CATCH youths said they were more likely to select healthy foods such as skim milk, fresh fruit, and skinless chicken and to eat high fiber and whole grain foods. They also self-reported eating more fiber and watching less TV on weekdays.
Although not statistically significant, the analysis also suggested positive movement toward We Can! objectives related to food knowledge; food attitudes: intentions to reduce fat and intentions to drink skim milk; healthy eating behaviors: eating fruits andvegetables and reading labels; physical activity behaviors; and screen time behaviors: weekend TV viewing, weekday video gaming and weekend video gaming.
South Bend implemented Media-Smart Youth in its summer camp setting. The kids met five days a week to understand the connections between media and health. It concluded with the Big Production where students apply their new skills to create a media project to help motivate other young people to take action for better health.
The participants especially enjoyed the sessions that dealt with creating a commercial and being in front of the camera. According to the facilitator, creating the commercial was the most popular part of the implementation.
Even after they had finished filming, the kids still wanted to create examples and take them home to watch or show to their friends. The facilitator was experienced with media production and development, expertise that proved invaluable in creating the PSA. No data were available for analysis.
South Bend Parks and Recreation Department
321 East Walter
South Bend, Indiana 46614
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