204721 Catch the activity bug: Community collaboration that gets kids active

Monday, November 9, 2009: 11:00 AM

Kevin A. Alvarnaz, MBA , Community Health Improvement, WellSpan Health, York, PA
Physical inactivity and unhealthy eating continue to be significant contributors to the rising rates of overweight and associated chronic diseases among children in the United States. In Pennsylvania, it is estimated that 35% of children do not meet the recommended weekly physical activity level of 240 minutes. In 2008, a multi-agency collaborative in York, Pennsylvania developed Catch the Activity Bug, a summer-long initiative that encouraged children and parents to get outdoors and be physically active by letterboxing over a three-month period. Thirty “bug-specific” letterboxes, with varying degrees of difficulty, were hidden in parks and along trails throughout York County. A program Field Guide provided participants with clues to each letterbox, facts and recommended library books about each bug, and a place to affix a unique letterbox stamp. Over 8200 Field Guides were distributed through a new partnership with the local library system; 13.5% of these were returned at program completion. Completed Field Guide information was utilized to calculate program outcomes. Participants who successfully located all thirty letterboxes walked approximately 21 miles, and a total of 16,535 miles was walked by all participants who returned their Field Guides, not accounting for family members who accompanied participating children. Additional outcomes, such as frequency of park/trails visits and unanticipated issues, will be discussed. A similar program, to be conducted in partnership with the local library system and creative arts community, is under development for summer 2009 and will promote physical activity, educate about the creative arts, and encourage reading. Outcomes from that program will also be shared.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the successes, challenges, and lessons learned from implementing the Catch the Activity Bug program. 2. Explain how diverse community agencies can effectively partner in program planning and implementation. 3. Discuss how a similar community-wide physical activity program may be replicated in other communities.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Community-Based Partnership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I presently serve as the Director of Community Health Improvement at WellSpan Health, an integrated healthcare system in South Central Pennsylvania. In addition, I have chaired the Healthy Lifestyles Task Force of the Healthy York County Coalition for the last three years and have been involved in community initiatives to promote physical activity and healthy eating.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.