Pictured are members of the Blue Blaze Drill Team presenting the
"Food Groupies Go to the Farmers' Market" skit during the 2012 Kids' Camp.
Happy New Year - Extension Office Has Lots to Offer
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has so much to offer! Many people do not realize the impact we are making on the community. I hope you have enjoyed reading the program summaries my co-worker, Mario Villarino and I have been providing.
We work extensively with children and youth through the Hopkins County 4-H program, Kids' Camp, Head Start educational programs, Ag-in-the-Classroom (Science of Agriculture), and school curriculum enrichment. Below is a summary of the Kids' Camp: Fun, Food, Fitness program conducted in 2012.
Childhood Overweight is a major issue in the U.S. and is identified as a contributing factor to many diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure later in life. According to the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 35% of Texans are considered overweight (BMI’s from 25 to 29.9), and 30% are considered obese (BMI’s from 30 to 99.8).
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 29.3% of Hopkins County residents are obese and 9.9% of Hopkins County residents over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The number of cases of type 2 diabetes among children has risen dramatically.
Children need a foundation of good health practices in order to live a healthy lifestyle. By making learning fun, adoption of best practices pertaining to nutrition and physical activity will make an impact on participating youth. The Community Health/Wellness Alliance, Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Committee, and Leadership Advisory Board identified childhood overweight as an issue that could be addressed in Hopkins County.
Another issue identified by stakeholders and committees was bullying. Even in early grades, bullying can be an issue. Although not a major problem in Hopkins County at the time, the planning committee felt that prevention was the bottom line.
Seeing the value of a similar event held in 2011, the Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, along with Community Health/Wellness Alliance, FCS Committee, and collaborators planned and implemented a 4-week summer day camp for students who had completed grades one thru 4. The camp was marketed through Sulphur Springs Schools, newspaper, and radio during the months of April and May, 2012. “Kids’ Camp: Fun, Food, Fitness” was held three days a week, 3 hours each day, for four weeks. The components for the camp were:
• Nutrition & simple recipe demonstrations
• Physical activity, including Walk Across Texas
• Gardening & recycling projects
The nutrition portions included group participation, games, teamwork, fun activity sheets, craft projects pertaining to nutrition, skits, hands-on participation, and recipe demonstration and sampling.
The physical activity portions included Walk Across Texas, with laps around the large park-like area. Each child was given a mileage log to record miles/minutes at home. Outdoor games, such as dodge ball, kick ball, baseball, soccer, and other activities were incorporated to emphasize that physical activity can be fun! The children were given frizbees and sports bottles to encourage outdoor play. Bottled water was available throughout the duration of the camp.
Fridays focused on gardening and recycling projects. The Hopkins County Master Gardeners led the students in learning about insects, above- and below-ground fruits & vegetables, and growing plants. Hands-on activities enhanced their learning.
Each day included a 30-minute bullying session led by the Region 8 Education Service Center, with supplementary activities and handouts from Extension’s “Take a Stand” curriculum. Group involvement and role playing were incorporated, which proved to be very effective.
The final day included a celebration: bounce house, water slide, build-your-own fruit parfait, planting project, barrel train ride, and crafts.
Registration was limited to 60 students, which quickly filled. Thirty-four high school Drill Team members assisted throughout the camp, providing a combined total of 324 hours of volunteer service. In addition, five planning committee members and four episodic volunteers contributed 240+ hours.
- 90% of the participants correctly answered the five nutrition-related questions
- 85% of the participants correctly answered the four physical activity-related questions
- 90% of the participants correctly answered bullying-related questions
- Kids’ Camp participants far exceeded the Walk Across Texas goal and achieved a combined total of 3,069 miles during the 4-week camp.
Parents were also asked for comments using a written evaluation. The camp received excellent feedback. Following are some of the comments received from parents:
“I benefited because the camp offered a variety of topics that my child learned.”
“My girls learned the importance of a well-balanced diet and exercising – and having fun without expensive video games and other childhood luxuries.”
“I loved how he came home every day to tell us what he learned.”
“My son wanted to cook for us, and actually followed a recipe in the Kids’ Camp booklet. Now he wants to plant seeds for a garden!”
“The staff was excellent – patient, fun, knowledgeable and well-organized!”
“(My daughter's) confidence is always boosted when she comes to Kids’ Camp.”
“My son was very informed about the nutritious fruits & vegetables. He made (a) very educated decision on what he should be eating. He also made sure he did daily exercises.”
“Don’t change a thing! She’s already talking about next year!”
Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.
Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Agent
1200-B W. Houston
P.O. Box 518
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 - phone
903-439-4909 - fax