A group of students and faculty from the University of Arizona Little Rock are working with elementary schools in the area to help curb childhood obesity. The volunteers from UALR’s nursing program have spent hundreds of hours taking measurements and working with a local program to track student success. A major success in the program is the cooperation from parents of students at the elementary school. With obesity becoming a widespread problem in the U.S., these students are stepping up to the plate and battling it at the earliest possible moment by setting children up for success when it comes to their healthy weight.
“Members of UALR’s Department of Nursing have teamed up with the City of Little Rock for the Love Your School initiative, a health promotion project aimed at reducing childhood obesity.
The project, which includes eight area elementary schools, began last semester and continues through May. The outcome-based program incorporates such components as classroom nutrition instruction, student container gardens, parent cooking classes, and school walking trails.
According to Cindy Gilbert, associate professor of nursing, the project takes full commitment from the elementary schools – teachers and parents must be on board to provide positive behavior change. The UALR nursing volunteers are helping out with the project’s first step, which involves taking the measurements of participating pupils to track progress.
So far, the UALR volunteer team – 20 strong – has collected measurements for more than 1,200 students.
“What is significant is that these children have to get parental permission to even begin,” said Gilbert, “so we feel pretty good about the number of participants involved.”
The team of volunteers, which includes nursing students, faculty, and staff, has already put in more than 200 volunteer hours, she said. The volunteers visit each school and spend an afternoon recording measurements such as BMI (body mass index). They will return in May to monitor students’ progress.” (Read more: Nursing School Volunteers for Obesity…)
For more information about obesity in children, the U.S. government has established the Let’s Move program. Let’s Move is aimed at educating the public about the dangers of childhood obesity. According to the site, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled over the past three decades, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese.
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