›› The Lexington Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition
The Lexington Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition was formed in September 2003. It is a pilot project of the Florida Prevention Research Center, the KY Physical Activity and Nutrition Program for the Prevention of Obesity and the Lexington Fayette County Health Department.
Mission Statement: Dedicated to making healthy eating and regular physical activity popular and accessible to Lexington tweens (9-13 year olds) in their homes, schools and community.
Community Based Prevention Marketing: The Lexington Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition is comprised of 40 community representatives. The Coalition uses Community Based Prevention Marketing, an approach that combines the grass roots wisdom and broad-based support of a community coalition with the effective tools of social marketing [Please see the documents on the right titled Community Based Prevention Marketing Chart and Community Based Prevention Marketing Schematic]. Social marketing uses sophisticated commercial marketing techniques to design and implement health campaigns. Dr. Carol Bryant of the Florida Prevention Research Center acts as the group’s mentor.
Research: The Lexington Fayette County Health Department staff and the Youth Board of the Coalition led 27 focus groups with tweens and 24 focus groups with parents to gain an understanding of their perspectives on nutrition and physical activity in their homes, community and schools. The information in these reports was combined with national literature to design strategies to enhance nutrition and physical activity among tweens. You can download copies of these reports and the marketing plan that was generated from them by visiting the USF PRC website.
Coalition Projects: The Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition has implemented a variety of projects since it was formed in September 2003. They include:
- VERB Summer Scorecard
- We Can!
- Getting Kids Physically Active workshops
- Get Out and Play groups
- Advocating for Increased Funding for Parks and Recreation
- Grab N Go Breakfast
- Fresh Take
- School Wellness Programs
›› VERB Summer Scorecard
What is VERB™? VERB™. It's what you do (www.VERBNow.com). VERB™ is a national, multicultural campaign that encourages tweens (9–13 year olds) to be physically active every day. The VERB campaign uses a combination of paid advertising, school and community promotions and the Internet to promote physical activity as cool, fun and a way to have a good time with friends.
Launched in 2002 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), VERB has proven effective. After one year, 74% of tweens surveyed were aware of VERB. The average 9-10 year old engaged in 34% more free-time physical activity sessions per week than 9-10 year olds who were unaware of the VERB campaign. Though funding for the national program was stopped in 2006, program materials are still available for community use.
What is a VERB Scorecard campaign? A VERB Scorecard campaign makes physical activity popular and accessible to tweens (www.VERBSummerScorecard.com). A variety of exciting free and reduced priced physical activity opportunities (free entrance to public pools, two for one skating, free water games in the park, etc.) are available to tweens with a VERB Scorecard.
The Scorecard is advertised as “your ticket to fun”. Tweens keep track of their activities at these sites and at home by marking squares on the card each time they’re physically active. There are typically 24 squares on a Scorecard that can be initialed by a parent or caregiver or stamped by a business or agency to verify participation. Some communities use on-line tracking systems for tweens to log their physical activity. Turning in a completed card (either on line or a hard copy) makes 9-13 year olds eligible for prizes and other fun opportunities. VERB Scorecard campaigns are designed to increase awareness, excitement and commitment to active opportunities for youth among tweens, parents and community partners.
Local communities can take advantage of the VERB campaign’s popularity among tweens by giving this national campaign local roots with a VERB Scorecard campaign. By being associated with VERB, community-wide Scorecard campaigns have an automatic recognition and an increased credibility that gives them a promotional jump start. VERB graphics and supporting materials can give local campaigns a powerful edge.
Implement a Scorecard Program in Your Community: The first VERB Scorecard campaign was launched in Lexington, KY in 2004 (more). Since then fourteen other communities have initiated their own versions of the VERB Scorecard campaign. Each community adapted it to meet their special characteristics. The VERB Partnership Team has published a guide for other communities interested in replicating the program. You can download a copy of the guide here.
Is the VERB Scorecard Campaign effective? A survey of 2,974 4th and 5th graders was coordinated by Dr. Julie Baldwin of the University of South Florida. The survey showed a high VERB brand recognition rate in Lexington (90% awareness locally vs. 74% awareness nationally).
In addition, the survey found that those students who had been exposed to both the national VERB campaign and the VERB Summer Scorecard program reported the highest levels of physical activity, suggesting an additive effect of implementing a locally-tailored intervention in conjunction with a national campaign.
›› Water First: Think Your Drink
The Center for Weight and Health identified the reduction of sweetened beverages as one of the most promising strategies to prevent childhood obesity. Parents are the primary influencers of their children’s sweetened beverage intake through the limits they set, the access they provide to sugary drinks in the home and by role modeling, The Lexington Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition has targeted parents of tweens as the primary audience and tweens as the secondary audience for an initiative to reduce sweetened beverage intake. Focus groups participants said a solely negative message would be poorly received so Water First: Think Your Drink was developed to position drinking water as the default practice. The initiative features:
- An interactive web site for both parents and tweens (www.drinkwaterfirst.com)
- Community promotions at libraries, public pools, YMCAs, work places, camps and schools
- Drawings for Water First reusable water bottles
- Policies encouraging drinking water
The Florida Prevention Research Center funded by CDC provided support for this project. Though the campaign was developed in Lexington, KY, other communities across the state and country are welcome to tap into Water First: Think Your Drink (How You Can Use Water First word document)
Contact Anita Courtney for more information.
›› We Can!
What is We Can? We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) is a turn-key, science-based new program designed by the National Institutes of Health for parents of 7-13 years old (http://wecan.nhlbi.nih.gov). We Can! provides parents with the knowledge, skills and support they need to help their children stay at a healthy weight by improving food choices, increasing physical activity and reducing screen time. We Can! reinforces the data gathered in the Lexington community that parents need simple, easily accessible information to guide their children’s nutrition and physical activity behaviors.
The Partnership for a Fit KY is spreading We Can! across the state of KY through faith-based organizations, work places, clinics and Cooperative Extension and Health Department programs.
What happens in a We Can! session? In each We Can! session there is:
- Clear, practical info
- Sharing among parents
- Interactive activities
- Simple cooking demo
- Physical activity
- Commitment from each parent to try
something new and report back next week
How can my community get involved? A We Can! Parents Handbook and Leader’s Guidebook provides communities the tools they need to lead this series. Trainings to become a KY We Can! leader are across the state in locations that have at least 10 participants. Contact Anita Courtney, We Can! State Coordinator, to sign up for a training.
We Can! leader training sessions
We Can!, designed by the National Institutes of Health, gives parents the knowledge, skills and support they need to help their children (7-13 years old) eat better and move more. This training will teach you great tools and tips on how to lead an exciting 4-week series of 1-hour sessions for parents easily and effectively.
- Leader’s guide
- Parent’s handbook
- Promotional tools
There are TWO dates for attendees to choose from:
- Thursday, December 6 from 8:30 am -11:30 pm
Jefferson County Health Department
Contact Susan Borders to register: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Friday, January 18 from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Madison County Cooperative Extension Office
Contact Leanna Bowles to register: email@example.com
REGISTRATION: Please register online at www.nkyhealth.org,
under current programs, or contact Monica Smith, RD at 859.363.2114
or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Trainings to become a KY We Can! leader are held across the state in locations that have at least 10 participants. To organize a We Can! Leaders Workshop in your community, contact Anita Courtney (email@example.com), We Can! KY Coordinator.
How do I recruit participants for a We Can! series? Recruitment for the We Can! series can be challenging. We recommend going to places where parents naturally convene: Wednesday night faith based groups and work places with mandatory lunch breaks.
›› “Getting Kids Physically Active” Workshops for Adult Youth Leaders
Eight “Getting Kids Physically Active” workshops reaching 160 adults have been led by Coalition member, Dr. Aaron Beighle of the UK Department for Kinesiology and Health Promotion. The workshops give adults who work with youth the skills and tools to lead groups in fun and safe physical activity. The program has been attended by after-school program staff, Boy and Girl Scout leaders, Boys and Girls Club staff, faith based youth group leaders and camp counselors. The three-week format allows participants to try the games, skills and management techniques they have learned and report back to the group for fine-tuning. Participant evaluations have been consistently positive and the program is being replicated across the state.
›› “Get Out and Play” Groups
Four regular neighborhood play groups were established in low income neighborhoods where safety is a barrier to physical activity for youth. Trained adults received a stipend and play equipment to meet with the youth on a weekly basis, leading them in fun games.
After the 8-week pilot programs concluded, a survey was distributed to program participants. In response to the question “What did you learn from the “Get Out and Play” program?” Physical activity is fun” was the most frequently mentioned answer. “Physical activity is good for my health” was the second and “Physical activity is easy to do” was the third. “Participating in physical activities is a good way to make friends” was the fourth. Eighty four percent of respondents reported they were satisfied with the program and would recommend it to other youth.
›› Advocating for Increased Funding for Parks and
Coalition members met with the Mayor of Lexington in 2005, prior to the development of the urban county government’s annual budget. The Coalition requested that the mayor increase the budget of the Parks and Recreation Department so they could offer more free and low cost programming for youth. The mayor requested an additional one million dollars for Parks and Recreation. Next the coalition made a concerted effort to contact Council Members asking them to approve the budget. The one million dollar increase was ultimately approved and allowed Park and Rec to offer more low-cost, active youth camps, a supervised playground program, keep all the public pools staffed, as well as improve the parks grounds.
›› Grab N Go Breakfast
Because eating breakfast is correlated with having a healthy weight, the coalition piloted a program designed to improve the nutritional quality of school breakfast and increase program participation. Focus groups found that barriers to eating breakfast at middle schools were lack of time, not being able to socialize with friends and a dislike of current breakfast offerings. A Grab- N-Go Breakfast program addressing these barriers was tested at one middle school for two weeks. Breakfast was offered to students in brightly colored bags (bags) that resembled fast food packaging and included items that were tested with students prior to the program’s inception.
Surveys were administered to teachers and students. 39 (18.7%) of the students surveyed report that they did not eat breakfast at all. Of those 39 students, 19 (48.7%) ate breakfast at least one morning during the Grab-NGo program. This indicates that the program was successful in reaching nearly half of the students who report not eating breakfast. Over ¼ of students participated in the program all ten days.
›› Fresh Take
Fresh Take was designed to encourage middle school students to select more fruits and vegetables in school cafeterias by offering some exciting new menu items including Chicken Cesar Salad, Fruit N’ More Plates and Fresh Fruit & Veggie Mini Dippin’ Cups. Students were given samples of fresh mango, papaya and cherry tomatoes from the Fresh Take Sample Cart. Fresh Take ran for five weeks in five Lexington middle schools. Food service staff received extra training in fruit and vegetable preparation. Fruits and vegetables were displayed more prominently on the cafeteria line. A variety of material were used to enhance the appearance of the cafeteria line (baskets, colorful pictures, menu display cards, sample carts). Fruit consumption increased significantly through the program.
›› School Wellness Policy
Five members of the Coalition served on the Physical Health and Well Being Subcommittee of the 2020 Vision Project. 2020 Vision, spearheaded by the school district’s new superintendent, invited the community to design a world class school district. Members worked for over 6 months documenting the science behind nutrition and physical activity and student performance and best practices for school policies. The committee presented their finding to the Board of Education in December 2005. The district is currently considering which elements of the policy they will implement.
Coalition members also help shape the federally mandated School Wellness Policy for the district by urging school personnel to strengthen health guidelines.
In addition, members of the Tweens Coalition contributed to the development of a proposal to fund a state-of-the-art wellness center for Bryan Station High School. The design of the program is based on the “New PE” used in Daviess County, KY and Naperville, Illinois.
The Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition is Sponsored by:
Florida Prevention Research Center
Partnership for a Fit KY / KY Department for Public Health
Lexington Fayette County Health Department
Chairperson / Lexington Tweens
Nutrition and Fitness Coalition