Firebaugh - Catch by BrittanyGibbons


									National FORUM of Applied Education Research Journal (AERJ) 22 (3) 2009

National Epidemic: Five Benefits of Implementing the CATCH Program into a Physical Education Curriculum in Helping Fight Childhood Obesity
Kevin David Firebaugh
Masters Program Educational Administration The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A&M University Prairie View, Texas Teacher Klein Independent School District Klein, Texas

William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
Professor and Faculty Mentor PhD Program in Educational Leadership The Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Prairie View A&M University Member of the Texas A&M University System Visiting Lecturer (2005) Oxford Round Table University of Oxford, Oxford, England Distinguished Alumnus (2004) College of Education and Professional Studies Central Washington University
________________________________________________________________________ ABSTRACT The Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program is a tool where physical education teachers can incorporate into their curriculum that helps tackle the childhood obesity issue that faces school age children today. Childhood obesity has become a national epidemic. According to the National Center for Health

Statistics, from 1999-2002, 16% of adolescents from the ages of 6-19 were obese. (Hedley, Ogden, Johnson, Carroll, Curtin, Flegal, 2004). Physical educators now have added pressure of teaching and incorporating examples of healthy lifestyles into their daily teachings. This article shows the importance of creating a school wide atmosphere of modeling healthy living, which are also the components of the CATCH program. _____________________________________________________________________

Purpose of the Article The purpose of this article is to discuss the benefits of implementing the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program into your physical education curriculum. Five benefits of CATCH will show the importance of implementing a meaningful and beneficial physical education program into your curriculum. Physical educators, health educators, classroom teachers, food nutrition specialists, school nurses, and administrators all need to work together in creating a school wide atmosphere of healthy eating and living. Firebaugh’s personal experience with implementing the CATCH program into my elementary physical education classroom has led to healthier and happier students. What is CATCH? The CATCH program stands for Coordinated Approach to Child Health. CATCH is an approved Texas Education Agency program designed to help with the child obesity issues that face this country. The CATCH program is broken into 4 components (, 2007): Eat Smart nutrition curriculum, classroom activities, physical education units, and the emphasis on family and their involvement in their child’s life. The first component of CATCH program deals with the Eat Smart initiative nutritional section. Foods are broken into three groups of Go, Slow, and Whoa foods. Go foods are ones of the highest nutritional value and contain the lowest amount of fat (ex. Fruits and vegetables). Slow foods are foods with some nutritional value, but contain some amount of fat. (Ex. Muffins). Whoa foods have the least nutritional value and contain mostly fat. (Ex. Junk foods). It is key to work with your food nutrition specialist on your campus when introducing these foods groups to your students. The second component of CATCH concentrates on classroom activities. This section of the CATCH program deals with the classroom teacher’s involvement in the school wide atmosphere on creating a healthy lifestyle. The program contains grade level activities in which teachers can pick and choose activities that will enhance their classroom curriculum. Items such as calorie counting for math concepts and food shopping experiences turned into writing essays are examples of how classroom teachers help the goal of creating a school wide atmosphere of a healthy lifestyle. The third component of the CATCH program is the physical education aspect of healthy living. Physical education teachers receive numerous games and activities already in lesson plan form and focuses on all parts of motor, social, and skill

development. Throughout the school year, Firebaugh would take lesson ideas from the CATCH activity kits and implemented numerous activities into my teaching unit. Activity kits are divided into kindergarten through second grade units and third through fifth grade units. The final component of the CATCH program deals with family involvement. The authors believe that children model their behavior after their parents. Not only do we have to teach our students the proper ways of eating healthy, but also have to inform the parents of this also. The CATCH program offers many ideas for parental involvement from family nights to monthly eating and exercising calendars.

How the CATCH Program Benefited the Students The school year 2006-2007 was the first year of the CATCH program being implemented into the school district. With a three-day training seminar in early August (all new members have to attend a training seminar), it was the start of a new beginning for our physical education curriculum. The following are benefits of implementing the CATCH program into your school district that Firebaugh has personal seen when using this program. This program is not intended to take the place of your current physical education program but to enhance it and give you new ideas. In this section, the authors will give personal experiences and thoughts to these five benefits from creating a healthy school wide atmosphere where your students learn to live healthier lives. Benefit One: Students are always active and moving One thing that Firebaugh noticed in his classes is that the students are getting more exercise and leaving my class with a great workout. As soon as students walk into class, they are moving. Students can begin by walking or running laps as a quick warm up and then move into a warm up game. Activities can be as simple as a tag game, which the students are constantly moving. Elimination games are not beneficial to students as they become bored and not receiving movement when not participating. Incorporating games with constant movement makes the kids heart rate increase, which creates active students. Benefit Two: Nutrition knowledge Teaching your students the Go, Slow, and Whoa food groups is a great way to get students involved in their eating selections. Firebaugh began the year teaching these food groups to all students, which includes kindergarten through fifth grade. Students began to learn the differences between foods and what was considered healthy and unhealthy. Mostly Go foods on your plate along with some Slow foods and lets say one Whoa food is a great example of a balanced meal. Firebaugh would witness students in the cafeteria saying that they had these types of food on their lunch plate. Having students learn what foods are the ones you should be eating lets the student take responsibility on their eating habits.

Benefit Three: Social interaction with their peers Firebaugh noticed that students this past school year had more social interaction with their peers than ever before. The CATCH PE games and activities create many situations where students have to find different partners throughout the activity. This is a way where students who may have never interacted with another student may begin a conversation, which leads to communication skills and social acceptance. Benefit Four: Improved self image and motivation With the concept of continuous movement and non-elimination games, Firebaugh noticed students feeling better and improved self-confidence. Students do not feel as pressured to win at all costs, especially the ones who are not as athletic as their peers. Our philosophy in elementary physical education is teaching the key motor development along with social acceptance for all students. Students should not come to class nervous or scared due to not feeling capable of participating in the game or activity. The CATCH program provides numerous games that involve all students of all skill levels so that everyone feels that they can have fun and learn at the same time. Benefit Five: School wide team effort in helping model healthy living When implementing CATCH into our school, Firebaugh soon realized that it takes a team effort in creating a positive atmosphere of a healthy lifestyle. This program works well when all individuals are determined to make a difference in the student’s life. Administrators, physical educators, councilors, school nurse, food nutrition staff, classroom teachers, and the child’s family all play an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The following activities are examples of what your school can do when implementing CATCH to create a school wide atmosphere. An activity such as a favorite fruit day or vegetable day where students bring to school their favorite item to eat is an easy way to promote healthy foods. In addition, inviting parents to the school for a family fun night to exercise with their child is a great way to get the community involved.

Concluding Remarks In conclusion, Americans are faced with the fact that childhood obesity levels are at their highest. As educators, it is our responsibility in helping our students learn the importance of eating healthy and living an active lifestyle. The CATCH program works as an enhancement tool to your physical education curriculum that looks at all aspects of a child’s life that contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Implementing this program covers nutritional information, classroom activities, physical education movement, and the importance of family involvement. All of these factors working together create a positive atmosphere in fighting childhood obesity. For more information regarding the CATCH program, please visit the CATCH website at

REFERENCES Curriculum overview: Coordinated approach to child health. Retrieved August 6, 2007, from Hedley, AA, Ogden, CL, Johnson, CL, Carroll, MD, Curtin, LR, & Flegal, KM. (2004). Overweight and obesity among US children, adolescents, and adults, 1999-2002. JAMA, 291, 2847-2850. Retrieved August 6, 2007, from

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