GENOA – Evan Skarzynski wants to live a long healthy life. At 12, he’s aware of what foods he eats and what they could mean for his future.
That’s because the sixth-grade student at Genoa-Kingston Middle School has been introduced to the Coordinated Approach to Child Health program.
CATCH, which promotes healthier food options and an active lifestyle, was implemented at Genoa-Kingston Middle School this school year. Students and staff believe it has been effective in preventing unhealthy lifestyles.
Sixth-graders there are introduced to the CATCH program during their physical education and health classes.
Learning what foods make up a healthy diet through the federal initiative “My Plate” was among the things Skarzynski and fellow students explored in the program.
“It changed the way I eat,” Skarzynski said. “If you eat healthier, you can live longer.”
Genoa-Kingston is the only DeKalb County school that provides the program to older students.
DeKalb and Sycamore schools have incorporated CATCH into their elementary schools.
Around $3,000 in grants from Genoa-Kingston’s Education Foundation and the DeKalb County Community Foundation made the program expansion possible.
Students also are exposed to “Go, Slow and Whoa!” which aims to categorize foods simply for students, advises they cut the amount of TV they watch and focuses on healthy eating in the school cafeteria, according to Barry Schmidt, a health and physical education teacher at the middle school.
“We talk about different topics, such as the importance of water, portion distortion, energy drinks and advertising,” Schmidt said. “We look at how advertising can fool people and what to look for.”
Schmidt said the program is going well because students are getting informed about the consequences of an unhealthy diet.
Aside from their eating habits, students also learn about how their activity affects their health. During physical education, students stay active while waiting on the sidelines to participate in whatever sport is being played that day.
The activity can be as simple as walking around the gym while waiting to play badminton or can be as involved as another game that’s played on the soccer field sidelines.
“We talk about how we need to set goals,” physical education teacher Tiffany Thurlby said, “and when we reach a goal, we need to set another one.”