Study provides insight for educators, opportunities for local youth
Milwaukee Recreation recently participated in the first phase of a national childhood obesity study conducted by the Sajai® Foundation, Penn State University, and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) in 49 U.S.cities. The positive findings have led the Northwestern Mutual Foundation to fund a local expansion of programs designed to combat childhood obesity.
During the summer of 2009, Milwaukee Recreation coordinated a 9-week trial of the Sajai Foundation’s Wise Kids®program at the MPS 65th Street camp site. The Wise Kids program is designed to teach children (ages 6-11) about healthy living. Penn State University worked with the Sajai Foundation to collect pre- and post-program surveys. The initial findings show that teaching children about healthy lifestyle choices will have a positive effect on their attitudes and behavior with regard to physical activity and good nutrition. In Milwaukee, the survey results indicate that program participants are now exercising more often on their own and making healthier choices about the foods they eat. They are also spending less time watching TV and playing computer games.
After seeing the positive results of the Wise Kids program in Milwaukee, the Sajai Foundation received funding from the Northwestern Mutual Foundation to facilitate a local expansion of the program.
“Studies show that we can help tip the scales against childhood obesity when we teach kids about healthy habits,” said Northwestern Mutual Foundation President Kimberley Goode. “The partnership with Milwaukee Recreation and the Sajai Foundation enables us to address the core causes of childhood obesity, make a long-term investment in local children and help secure future generations.”
In 2010, six MPS after- school camp sites will implement the Wise Kids curriculum, reaching a total of 300 students. Each child will receive 18 hours of lessons, including at least 9 hours of physical activity. Researchers will continue to track the Milwaukee students ’MILWAUKEE RECREATION PARTICIPATES IN NATIONAL YOUTH OBESITY STUDY.’ Study provides insight for educators, opportunities for local youth progress. Media representatives are invited to schedule a site visit by calling Brian Hoffer at (414) 475- 8938.
According to Cecelia Edmond, the Wise Kids supervisor for Milwaukee Recreation, the expanded program will open the eyes of many children and adults to a better way of living. “The Wise Kids program has already made a real difference in our school district,” said Edmond. “Before joining the program, 51% of the students agreed that the energy we put into our bodies should equal the number of calories we burn through exercise. Following the program, 83% of the students agreed with that statement. We are grateful to the Northwestern Mutual Foundation for helping us to reach more children with the positive Wise Kids program.”
As a result of the study, the Sajai Foundation will continue to work with community partners to expand its Wise Kids programs. Efforts include identifying potential funding sources and the addition of a 2010 summer grant program for up to 30 agencies that demonstrate significant needs. The Sajai Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children why to value and how to live a healthier life by encouraging them to experience the outdoors, to be active and to make smart nutrition decisions. For more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Foundation President/CEO Melissa Hanson, please call Amy Rea at (952) 288-3364 or e-mail at Amy@sajaifoundation.org.
The mission of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation is to build strong, vibrant communities that serve as a legacy to future generations. The Foundation’s giving is designed to create an impact on the communities where the company’s employees and financial representatives live and work. The Foundation is the largest corporate giver in the state of Wisconsin. In fiscal year 2009, the Foundation contributed more than $15 million to non- profit organizations across the country. For more information, call Northwestern Mutual’s media hotline at (800) 323-7033 or visit www.northwesternmutual.com.
Milwaukee Recreation is a department of Milwaukee Public Schools, established in 1911 to provide the entire community with affordable and enriching recreational activities. For more information about Milwaukee Recreation’s participation in the Wise Kids program, please contact Brian Hoffer at (414) 475-8938 or e-mail Brian@MilwaukeeRecreation.net.