The Youth Connection Combats Childhood Obesity

The Youth Connection, in partnership with the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative, worked together to promote our Fit ‘N’ Fun Family Clubs in the Osborn, Southwest Detroit and Brightmoor communities of Detroit in 2012 and 2013. The Fit ‘N’ Fun Family Clubs brought together parents, partners and children in these communities to increase healthy eating and exercise habits. The program focused on:

  1. Increasing fruit and vegetable intake
  2. Increasing physical activity
  3. Decreasing intake of sweetened beverages
  4. Decreasing screen time (TV, computer, video games)

“We feel it is vitally important to the future of Detroit that our kids know the value of eating right and exercising,” said Dr. Grenaé Dudley, President and CEO of The Youth Connection. “Our mission is to help families become healthier and more active while engaging our kids and parents in a fun and family-oriented after-school activity.”

According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, 70% of Detroiters are obese or overweight. Nationally, the adverse health effects of childhood obesity are well documented. Over half of Detroit residents live in “food deserts,” an area with inadequate access to nutritious foods. The lack of supermarkets in Detroit along with the closing of several city recreation centers has contributed to an increase in numerous medical conditions and threatens the health of the entire community.

The Fit ‘N’ Fun Family Clubs focused on educating students ages 6-12 and their parents about the values of healthy eating and active lifestyles. Six two-hour workshops were held for every session beginning with an orientation for parents and children, four lessons on the above mentioned themes, and then a healthy cooking demonstration and closing session.

We completed Fit ‘N’ Fun Family Clubs in schools (Brenda Scott, The Academy of Americas, Gompers Elementary, Bates Academy), Community-based organizations (MAN Network, Latino Family Services) and at churches (True Light Temple). The participants at each location had a blast, and our outcomes in terms of knowledge of healthy lifestyles and behavior change in the participants were very impressive.

We promoted our Fit ‘N’ Fun Family Clubs at our Annual After-School Fair, our Boo Walk, which was a community event designed to be a healthy pre-cursor to Halloween, and at several Educational Achievement Authority open houses.

Overall, we thought the program was a huge success and we look forward to continuing our healthy lifestyle and nutrition education programming in the future.

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