Milwaukee Public Television is launching I AM THE FIT GENERATION, a pilot outreach initiative to encourage healthy eating and physical activity in the area’s children. Designed to combat the alarming problem of childhood obesity, it is aimed at vulnerable and low income children between ages 4 and 12 and kicked off the week of April 5. I AM THE FIT GENERATION will continue through the spring and summer, and conclude as children head back to school. The initiative is in partnership with the Children’s Health Education Center, an entity of Children’s Hospital and Health System.
“The Trust for America’s Health estimates that 28 percent of children in Wisconsin are overweight, a percentage that’s higher than the state’s adult obesity rate,” says Ellis Bromberg, general manager of MPTV. “MPTV can reach both parents and children to educate and encourage them to adopt healthy habits that include good nutrition and daily exercise. In creating this initiative, we’ve included a number of avenues to communicate our message through a variety of programming and community outreach activities.”
I AM THE FIT GENERATION is designed to reach children, as well as parents, at home and at school through special episodes of children’s programming like Sesame Street, locally produced 60- second spots that deliver positive messages about diet and exercise, Kids in the Kitchen, a children’s Healthy Habits Tracker, in-school workshops, summer workshops at Milwaukee- area libraries, adult programming on healthy living, a workshop for parents, a special healthy living web site and participation in existing outreach efforts.
Special Episodes of Children’s Programming
During the week of April 5, MPTV will air special episodes of popular children’s programs that focus on healthy living. For example, unon April 5 at 8 a.m., Curious George visited a hospital and learn about good bones. On April 7 at 8 a.m., Curious George focused on hearing. On April 5 at 7 a.m. and April 9 at 11 a.m., Sesame Street talked about fruits and vegetables. On April 5 at 8:30 a.m., Sid the Science Kid investigated brushing teeth. On April 6, 7 and 8 at 8:30 a.m., Sid tackled sneezing and washing hands, health day and getting a shot, respectively.
Locally Produced 60-second Spots
To reinforce the elements of a healthy lifestyle, MPTV has produced three 60-second, noncommercial spots that will air throughout its children’s programming. The spots use an energetic rap created by The Figureheads and feature students from Eastbrook Academy in Milwaukee who deliver a 5-4-3-2-1 message:
- 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day
- 4 servings of water every day (instead of soda)
- 3 servings of low-fat dairy every day
- 2 hours or less of screen time every day
- 1 hour or more of physical activity every day
The spots, produced by MPTV producer Lois Maurer, will surround MPTV’s children’s programming between 6 and 10 a.m. and 2 and 6 p.m. throughout the spring and summer.
Expanded Kids in the Kitchen
During the kickoff week, a 10-minute Kids in the Kitchen segment with Darlyne Haertlein, MPTV’s outreach director, will air in heavy rotation and all recipes will be available online.
Healthy Habits Tracker
To provide children with additional education and learning activities, MPTV has created a Healthy Habits Tracker, an entertaining eight-page activity guide that challenges children to commit to making lifestyle changes around exercise, diet and personal hygiene. The guide includes recipes for healthy snacks, reasons not to drink soda, suggested games and physical activities, a chart that encourages children to follow the 5-4-3-2-1 guidelines, book suggestions that are focused on health and fitness and brain teasers.
MPTV will distribute more than 30,000 Healthy Habits Trackers to children throughout the community. The Trackers will be delivered through MPTV’s popular Vacation Station project at 120 Milwaukee schools and libraries, the Children’s Health Education Center and YDay Camps.
Each child who completes a Tracker and mails it to Milwaukee Public Television, Vacation Station, 1036 N. Eighth Street, Milwaukee, WI, 53233, by July 15 will receive a one week family guest pass to any YMCA. The guest pass is valid for three adults and unlimited children in the family.
Children will also be entered in a drawing for a variety of prizes, including: 500 family four packs to a Brewers’ game; a Trek bicycle with helmet and accessories from Emerys Third Coast Cycling, Triathlon & Fitness Shops; deluxe accommodations for one night at the Hilton City Center with four tickets to Paradise Landing Waterpark from Marcus Hotels & Resorts; a six-week skating scholarship at the Pettit National Ice Center; a bowling party at AMF Bowlero Lanes; roller skating passes at Incredi-Roll Skate & Family Fun Center in West Allis; a canoe or kayak rental from Laacke & Joys; and tickets to Betty Brinn Children’s Museum.
The Children’s Health Education Center will conduct 10 workshops on diet and exercise at Fratney Elementary School, Bruce Elementary School, Townsend Street School, Vieau Elementary School and Starms Discovery Learning Center. Through two workshops at each school, approximately 650 students in first through fourth grade will participate in an interactive and engaging 45-minute health education program. Classroom teachers will also receive activities and materials to continue educating students about the ingredients for a healthy life.
Students in first and second grade will learn about the importance of choosing “go foods” rather than “slow foods,” as well as why exercise is so important and the basics of the food pyramid. Third and fourth graders will discover more facts about the food pyramid and learn how to choose healthy meals. They’ll also discuss hidden fat and sugar in foods and beverages and learn exercises to keep their bodies healthy.
MPTV will host five I AM THE FIT GENERATION workshops at Milwaukee-area libraries. Darlyne Haertlein, the station’s outreach director, will conduct “Stories (almost) Good Enough to Eat,” which delivers a message of healthy food choices and good nutrition. Children ages 4 to 7 and their parents are encouraged to attend: Zablocki Library, 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave., June 17 at 10:30 a.m.; Milwaukee Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., June 28 at 10:30 a.m.; Center Street Library, 2727 W. Fond du Lac Ave., July 8 at 10:30 a.m.; Capitol Library, 3969 N. 74th St., July 15 at 10:30 a.m.; and Martin Luther King Library, 310 W. Locust St., August 5 at 10 a.m.
As part of the I AM THE FIT GENERATION kickoff week, MPTV aired adult programming that focused on education and awareness about the problem of obesity and how to combat it. On April 6 at 6 p.m. on MPTV 10.1, the station broadcasted Keeping Kids Healthy – Great Nutrition for the Cheapest Price and on April 7 at 6 p.m. Fit Kids Healthy Families.
MPTV and the Children’s Health Education Center will host a workshop for parents who attend Milwaukee Area Technical College. The date of the workshop will be announced soon.
I AM THE FIT GENERATION Web Site
To encourage children to engage in healthy eating and get them moving in the spring and summer, MPTV has developed special I AM THE FIT GENERATION web content at mptv.org/fi tkids. The site includes a variety of healthy living content, including kid-friendly recipes from Kids in the Kitchen, get-moving exercises and challenges, details on the 5-4-3-2-1 guidelines and links to community resources and other initiatives. The site was scheduled to go live on April 6.
Participation in Community Events
MPTV will participate in the YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day on April 17 at the Northside Branch of the YMCA, 1350 West North Avenue, Milwaukee. The day will include a performance by the Figureheads and distribution of the Healthy Habits Trackers.
The station also partnered for the Grand Opening of Kohl’s “It’s Your Move” exhibit at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, which features a colorful winding path that leads players to action-packed activity stations where they explore nutrition, activity and rest, safety and personal care.
The I AM THE FIT GENERATION initiative is supported by grants from the Brewers Community Foundation, The Cordon Family Foundation, Dorothy Watkins Inbusch Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Foundation Norma & Ida Sinske Fund and the Charles D. Jacobus Family Foundation.
Since its inception, MPTV has educated, entertained and inspired. Today MPTV offers viewers a family of nine digital channels to choose from, 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 10.1 HD (Time Warner Cable 1010) 36.1 (TWC 16 or 1016), 36.2 Vme (TWC 975), 36.3 World (TWC 976) 36.4 Create (TWC 977), 36.5 Classical (TWC 978), 36.6 Jazz (TWC 979), 36.7 Weather (TWC 980), and 36.8 Traffi c (TWC 981). MPTV is a viewer-supported service of Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The Facts on Obesity
- First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced “Let’s Move,” a national program to raise a healthier generation of kids.
- According to the “Let’s Move” web site, obesity threatens the healthy future of one third of all American children. The country spends $150 billion every year to treat obesity-related conditions, and that number is growing. For the first time in American history, our children’s life expectancy may be shorter than their parents’.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, obesity in children is now considered an epidemic.
- Jeff Levi, director of the Trust for America’s Health, says “There’s no way the U.S. can compete with the rest of the world if we’re weighed down by bad health. And communities need to do more to promote healthy eating and exercise in children.”
- According to the CDC, more than one third of U.S. adults—more than 72 million people—and 16 percent of U.S. children are obese. Since 1980, obesity rates for adults have doubled and rates for children have tripled. Obesity rates among all groups in society—irrespective of age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, or geographic region—have increased markedly.
- According to the CDC, in 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent. Thirty-two states, including Wisconsin, had prevalence equal to or greater than 25 percent; six of these states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30 percent.
- The CDC notes that obesity has physical, psychological, and social consequences in adults and children. Children and adolescents are developing obesity-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, that were once seen only in adults. Obese children are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and abnormal glucose tolerance. One study of 5- to 17-year-olds found that 70 percent of obese children had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 39 percent of obese children had at least two risk factors.