-START A YOUTH FITNESS PROGRAM-
The Nerd Zone participants learned a variety of new games and ways to be active. At the end of the program, the youth were asked which they preferred- the video game exercises or more traditional exercises? It turns out they really liked the traditional exercises!
A Better Chance,
A Better Community
Enfield, NC - Halifax County
The ABC2 World Changers, an aptly-named group of young adults, were surprised to learn that 62% of youth in their county spent more than seven hours a day playing video games, using the computer, or watching TV. The World Changers decided to start The Nerd Zone: Making Healthy Cool, an inclusive summer program where people could be themselves while learning about physical activity. They included video game exercises, such as bowling and Zumba, along with more traditional forms of exercise.
Each week began with a different theme, such as tennis. Participants split into two groups based on age (10-14 and 15-18 years old). One group began with traditional exercises related to tennis, such as hitting the ball, stretching, and running. Later they switched to video game exercises, where they played a tennis game that involved moderate-to-rigorous physical activity. Each day ended with yoga and a “Zen moment” to promote peace and mental wellbeing.
The Nerd Zone didn’t stop with exercise- participants also learned about healthy eating. Everyone received nutritious breakfast, lunch, and snacks throughout the day. Representatives from the hospital and health department visited each week to talk about nutrition topics, including healthy smoothies, understanding calories, and quick and easy healthy snack ideas.
Finally, each youth created a S.M.A.R.T. goal every week. S.M.A.R.T. goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely- something as simple as not eating Burger King for a week, or drinking water instead of soda. Everyone shared their goal and how the rest of the group could support them. These goals helped participants implement what they learned at the summer program into their daily lives, even after the program ended.
Here are aspects of The Nerd Zone that allowed it to be successful:
Partnerships: ABC2 became a Child Nutrition Summer Feeding Program partner site, which allowed them to offer free breakfast, lunch, and healthy snacks. They also partnered their local health department and hospital to offer nutrition lessons, and with Rural Health Group to track participant’s weight and vital signs throughout the program.
Funding: The youth of ABC2 wrote a grant which covered the purchase of a TV, xbox, videogames, and a stipend for two PE teachers to lead activities.
Recruitment: Participants were recruited via youth-made flyers and and social media
Measuring Success: Along with measuring vital signs, participants also filled out surveys that measured their physical activity knowledge and preferences. When the local school board considered cutting physical activity time at schools, ABC2 representatives presented their findings and convinced the board to keep physical activity and purchase active video games!
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