HANCOCK - Getting children moving and eating properly is a goal of schools and other groups throughout the country, and locally, the CATCH UP program has been doing that for almost a year.
The CATCH - or Coordinated Approach to Child Health in the Upper Peninsula - program is coordinated by the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department and Sara Salo, health education coordinator with the health department, said the program is funded with a federal Rural Outreach Grant through 2015, and the health department is taking the lead with presenting it.
Salo said the CATCH program is designed to teach kindergarten through fifth grade children how to eat healthy and to exercise regularly, and it has some science behind its creation.
"It started with research down in Texas," she said. "It's also aimed at creating a healthy school environment."
The exercises are designed to seem like games to the children and include such things as Dragon's Tail, which involves trying to grab colored cloths from each other's belts. Those who lose their belts have to do five push ups. Another game involves four or five children in a line turning to a side to pass a ball to the person next in line.
The nutritional component to the program involves a Whoa, Go and Flow approach. The "Whoa" foods are low in nutrition and should be eaten as little as possible, the "Go" foods are OK, but not the best, and the "Flow" foods have the most nutrition, such as fruits and vegetables.
Salo said last year the CATCH program was conducted only after school and during summer through the Great Explorations program, but this year the program will be used during the school day.
Besides the activities during gym class, Salo said there will be instructions on exercise and nutrition during class time. The after school activities will continue, also.
Salo said the schools taking part in CATCH are Bessemer Area School, Dollar Bay-Tamarack City Area School, Hancock Public Schools, Houghton-Portage Township Schools, Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools, L'Anse Area Schools, and the Copper Country Intermediate School District.
There is no cost to the parents of the children taking part in the program, Salo said.
"It's paid by the grant," she said.
Also with the grant, Salo said individual schools get instructional material, teacher training and equipment.
Salo said there is also an effort to create school wellness teams, and later this year there will be a family outreach program for families of children using the program.
Possibly in October, Salo said the health department will evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
"We'll be doing assessments at the schools," she said.
Information about the national CATCH program can be found at catchinfo.org.