Stories

Children’s Power Play! Campaign – Network for a Healthy California

August 14, 2009

By Vivian Moon

 Summer is the time to get out, get involved, and get active. The California Children’s 5 a Day – Power Play! campaign is a state health initiative that encourages children to take charge of their health and fitness. Designed for at-risk children, the campaign works to fight childhood obesity and its short- and long-term consequences. Calling for healthier eating habits and daily physical activity, schools, teachers, and 500 community youth organizations are making efforts to help children change their eating habits early.

 The Children’s Power Play! public health initiative focuses on 9- to 11-year-old youth and has three goals: to encourage youth to eat 3-5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily; to motivate youth to do 60 minutes of exercise or physical activity every day; and, to promote an environment that encourages healthy living. By calling on the help of parents and youth organizations, the initiative inspires children to make the most of summertime by getting outside, playing, and doing good for their bodies. By eating right and being proactive, children can prevent the risk and consequences of chronic disease and obesity in the future.

 The campaign also holds PLAY! week in an effort to avoid the “summer slump.” The “summer slump” refers to children showing increased weight gain during the summer, up to twice as quickly as during the school year. PLAY! week takes youth outdoors for the summer, to avoid inactivity such as sitting in front of the TV. At local sites, youth leaders direct the children in high-energy games and activities, like hula hooping and dancing. Children can also log their PLAY! time throughout the week and are encouraged to keep track of their daily hours of physical activity until the end of summer, when they receive a mystery congratulatory prize for their efforts.

 The Summer Fun Café event, from June 22 to August 28, is also serving free lunches for children at various parks and recreation centers in San Diego. On special BBQ days, youth can compete in a Nutrition Decathlon, and receive free bags of fruits and vegetables provided by the San Diego Food Bank. There are no enrollment or paperwork requirements to participate in the Summer Fun Café, and all youth ages 2-18 are welcome.

 In addition to a week of play and special lunches, the Power Up Your Summer! Challenge works with schools, after-school programs, farmers’ markets, and other community agencies and outlets, such as the California Department of Health Services that help provide resources and expert knowledge to make event locations more health-forward. Work includes adding healthier choices to cafeteria menus and limiting the number of soda machines on site. Such environmental changes help engrain the importance of eating right in the minds of youth, and promote health for a lifetime.

 By encouraging families and communities to work together, the Children’s Power Play campaign inspires children and their parents to get out and move together. The initiative will have children being active and engaged, which can lead to other positive outcomes, such as being better able to fight stress and gaining self-confidence and a feeling of well-being.  

 For more information on this play initiative, visit www.sd nnonline.org, or contact Larissa Johnson, Physical Activity Coordinator for Network for a Healthy California at (619) 681-0676.

Vivian Moon is an intern with the UC San Diego Comprehensive Research Center in Health Disparities (CRCHD) and is majoring in Literature/Writing with a minor is Political Science at UC San Diego. The CRCHD is a partnership of organizations focusing on community minority health and health disparities research. This publication  was supported by the UC San Diego Comprehensive Research Center in Health Disparities, Grant Number 5 P60 MD 000220 from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health.

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