The State Team of Springfield-Greene County Park and Recreation has a strong history of community-based obesity prevention efforts.
It was a Hearts N’ Parks Magnet Center for three years, is a 21st Century Learning Center, and has successfully implemented the Community Learning in Centers for Kids (C.L.I.C.K.) program—a free after-school program designed to expose students to a variety of experiences, energize their interests, and boost their academic performance.
Springfield-Greene was able to augment its efforts by adding We Can! to its school year programs at five sites, as well as an additional five sites during its summer programming.
In addition to implementing the youth and adult education programs, Springfield-Greene promoted We Can! at numerous, well-attended community events and created several strong partnerships in its community.
Key Site Successes
Springfield-Greene connected the We Can! program into pre-existing and successful outreach programs at the local and state level.
The site participated in four community events that attracted more than 70,000 community members, generated local media coverage, and fostered partnerships with a variety of organizations in the community. The events included -
Springfield-Greene received local television coverage at its Building Blocks for Healthy Youth event, and it also publicized its programming, including We Can!, in its C.L.I.C.K. flier and calendar.
Springfield-Greene was able to recruit 12 partners to support its We Can! activities. Springfield-Greene’s strong reputation earned funding from Caring Communities, a multi-agency nonprofit. The group funded some of the We Can! activities, as well as scholarships for youths to participate in the activities. Springfield-Greene contributes to its partnership with Caring Communities by participating in its block party, at which the site performs CATCH Kids Club activities.
Many of its partners got involved with the site’s community events, including Community Partnership of the Ozarks with volunteers and funding to support the program, Smoothie King for nutritious smoothies, Jordan Valley Ice Park for ice skating, D.A.R.E. for drug education, Greene County Sheriff Department forstranger awareness, Springfield Police Department for bicycle safety, and Cox Medical Center for donated supplies.
The YMCA works with the site each year to organize the Lights On event and provided funding, facilities, and volunteer support. The Boys and Girls Club provided volunteers, program organization, and support with fundraising. Highland Dairy works with Springfield-Greene to organize the Lights On event each year, and supplies milk and cheese.
We Can! Energize Our Families: Curriculum for Parents and Caregivers
Springfield-Greene utilized elements of the six-lesson We Can! Parent Curriculum—developed by We Can! specifically for parents and caregivers—during various activities.
Another program, Nifty Nights, promoted the We Can! Parent Curriculum and presented the information to parents who like to do the activities with their kids. The site also incorporated the nutrition and recreation parts of the curriculum into some of its health fairs. No data were available for analysis.
CATCH Kids Club
Springfield-Greene 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—five times at its summer day camp.
The kids met five days a week and enjoyed the program’s physical activities, and especially enjoyed the nutrition portion, getting samples of food and learning about new food. In all, 24 children consisting of 13 girls and 11 boys received nutrition lessons, participated in physical activities, and learned recipes for making healthy snacks.
An analysis of 24 respondent surveys found statistically significant increases in food knowledge; food attitudes: self-efficacy, intentions to reduce fat, intentions to drink skim milk; physical activity attitudes, and decreased screen time behaviors: weekday TV viewing.
At the completion of the program, youths had increased knowledge of healthy eating habits including identifying healthy food choices, and reported more positive attitudes towards healthy eating including increased intention to reduce intake of higher-fat foods and to drink low fat or skim milk instead of whole milk.
Youths also said they were more likely to engage in physically active behavior and had decreased their television viewing during the week.
Although not statistically significant, the analysis also suggested positive movement toward We Can! objectives related to healthy eating behaviors: reading labels and decreasing screen time behaviors: weekend TV viewing and weekday video gaming.
Media-Smart Youth: Eat, Think, and Be Active!
The Springfield-Greene County Park and Recreation implemented Media-Smart Youth twice at the beginning of 2006. The 10-lesson curriculum focuses on helping 11–13-year-olds understand the connections between media and health, and concludes 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 sessions were held in an elementary school and a middle school reaching 5th and 6th graders that met for one and one-half hours, once a week, for ten weeks. The kids really enjoyed making their own video, as well as the supermarket trip where they participated in a scavenger hunt.
An analysis of 18 respondent surveys suggested positive movement toward We Can! objectives related to nutrition knowledge, food attitudes, and physical activity knowledge and attitudes; however, these findings were not statistically significant.
Springfield-Greene County Park Board
1923 North Weller
Springfield, Missouri 65803
We Can! and the We Can! logo are trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).