YMCA Announces Program To Fight Childhood Obesity

PERTH AMBOY—The Raritan Bay Area YMCA will offer a new after-school program, Healthy U, to children in local YMCA after-school sites in Perth Amboy to help fight childhood obesity.

The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey’s Healthy U program is a statewide initiative to introduce the award-winning CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) curriculum that will lower obesity rates in children. The Raritan Bay Area YMCA will join with 41 YMCAs across New Jersey to provide the CATCH curriculum that will reach thousands of children.

Locally, the Raritan Bay Area YMCA is dedicated to combating our area’s health crisis by improving the healthy life habits of children and families in Middlesex County and has been taking steps to support families in making healthier life, nutritional and physical activity choices.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 77 % of U.S. school-age children said they are active only one day a week or less. Also according to a recent Meridian Health Systems report, 36% of our market area adults are overweight, and 12.1 % of children aged 6-17 are already overweight. This crisis has been brought about by a myriad of factors -the most evident being physical inactivity and the dramatic increase in unhealthy life habits.

“The Healthy U program will be offered to children between the ages of 5 and 12, who are enrolled in our YMCA after-school programs. Healthy U promotes nutrition education, noncompetitive physical education, improved self-esteem and strong family involvement,” said Nilda Delgado, branch director at the Raritan Bay Area YMCA. “The CATCH curriculum is proven to reduce obesity, and thanks to support from The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, we are excited to incorporate it as part of our efforts to improve the health of our children.”

The Healthy U program is an after-school program made possible by a $1 million grant from The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and that will be administered at 42 YMCA Member Associations and 359 YMCA sites across the state. Healthy U is based on the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) curriculum, developed by the University of Texas Science Center School of Public Health. The CATCH curriculum is a national award-winning program with over 15 years of research documenting the program’s success in reducing the rate of childhood obesity. The CATCH curriculum has three distinct components for success: physical education, nutrition education and parental involvement.

• The physical education component incorporates fun fitness activities, competency and cognitive understanding about the importance of physical activity with an emphasis on non-elimination games and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

• The nutrition education component teaches children how to identify, adopt and practice healthy eating habits. The program encourages changes in behavior that support healthy eating patterns.

• Parents will be informed of the program’s objectives and will be encouraged to support their child’s participation.

For more information on Horizon Healthy U, CATCH and after-school programs at the Raritan Bay Area YMCA, call (732) 442-3632.

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