SYCAMORE – A $14,000 grant will help boost health initiatives in Sycamore School District 427’s primary after-school program.
Leaders from Live Healthy DeKalb County, a group of health, city and school officials focused on creating healthy lifestyles through environmental and policy changes, secured a $14,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to implement the CATCH program at all five of Sycamore’s elementary schools.
CATCH, which stands for Coordinated Approach To Child Health, will be featured in the after-school OSCAR program after pilot programs were successful at Southeast and West elementary schools.
Lisa Cumings, community liaison with Kishwaukee Community Hospital and coordinator of the CATCH program, said the grant would provide the full curriculum and equipment such as jumpropes, balls, hula hoops and scooters. Certified CATCH trainers also will train OSCAR staff.
“We always had the vision of bringing it to all the after-school programs in Sycamore,” Cumings said. “It’s exciting to see it finally coming to fruition and spreading.”
The program is aimed at fighting childhood obesity and instilling proper nutrition and exercise habits in young students.
Thomas Franks, director of OSCAR, said students already have started making positive changes in the limited exposure they have had to CATCH in some physical education courses.
He said parents have told him their students are bringing healthy habits home and talking about slow, go and whoa foods, which identify how much of each type of food a person should have.
“It’s going to be fantastic that all of our kids will get it,” Franks said. “We know it’s researched based. We know when it’s done correctly, it works.”
Cumings and Franks said that they were confident the program would be sustained after grant funding is exhausted in December.
Because the schools will have the curriculum and equipment, coordinators will only need to focus on training new staff members when turnover occurs.
The grant also will help launch a summer CATCH program at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA, Cumings said. She said the program would feature lessons once a week and middle school children would play a pivotal role, serving as role models and teachers for elementary students.
Now that the program is implemented during school days in DeKalb and in after-school programs at Sycamore, Cumings said she hopes to expand it toward Sandwich and Genoa.
“This is a countywide initiative,” she said. “We want to reach as many people as we can.”