After school program promotes healthy lifestyle

(Plain Press, July 2005) Children in Esperanza’s after school Prime Time for Reading program at Clark Elementary School learned about the benefits of eating healthy foods and staying active over the last 12 weeks of the school year.

Children participating in the program and their families celebrated the completion the 12-week program on June 9th at an indoor picnic at the Hispanic Youth Center in the newly refurbished Community Care Network Community Center at 3146 Scranton.

Thirty-five Hispanic children, grades 1-4, participated in the  “Mission Possible” program.  They were involved in literacy learning, physical activities, and hands-on science activities and they learned about eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.  In addition there were family activities including field trips to the Health Museum and the Cleveland Botanical Garden.  A family meal and certificates marked the halfway point in the program.

In the “Eat Well – Play Hard” portion of Mission Possible, children and their families learned about healthy eating strategies and about the importance of exercise for a healthy lifestyle.  Zoraida Valentin, of the Prime Time for Reading program, coordinated Esperanza’s participation and Marisa Warrix, Gregory Siek, and Frances Torres of OSU Extension led the activities.    

Ohio State University Extension and Cuyahoga County 4-H collaborated with Esperanza in Esperanza’s after-school program with primary school students.  The Mission Possible program was supported by a Healthy Lifestyles Grant from the National 4-H Council, in partnership with Cargill.  The program was established to motivate and educate young people and their families to live healthy lifestyles in an effort to counteract the growing trends of childhood obesity.  Grants were given to organizations fostering community-based, collaborative education and activities for youth ages 5-12 and their families, focusing on nutrition, fitness and positive lifestyles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 10 percent of preschool children between ages two and five are overweight. Since 1980, the number of overweight children in the United States has nearly doubled and the number of overweight adolescents almost tripled. Obese young people have a 70 percent chance of growing up to be obese adults. David Bryden and Elizabeth Earley of the local Cargill Cares group have been supportive of the project and encouraged Esperanza and OSU Extension to participate.

Barbara Esperon, Chief Executive Officer of Esperanza and Joe Konen of Ohio State University Extension applied for and secured the grant, which allowed for purchase of activity supplies and healthy-snacks for the students.  


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