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Initiative expanded to promote
healthy eating and physical activity among children    
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[JUNE 10, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Tuesday that 14 additional elementary schools have been selected to participate in an initiative designed to promote good nutrition and exercise habits.

The program called CATCH, an acronym for Coordinated Approach to Child Health, began in January with six schools and eventually may be expanded to schools statewide.

"Obesity has become a critical health program for our children and, if unchecked, is on pace to become the leading cause of preventable death in this country," Blagojevich said. "As adults, we must teach our children how to lead healthier lives. To that end, I am pleased that we can expand this pilot program to additional schools so that other children will have the opportunity to learn how to make better food choices and to increase their activity level."

CATCH is a multicomponent health intervention program, which builds an alliance of parents, teachers, child nutrition personnel, school staff and community partners to teach children and their families how to be healthy throughout their lives. It is targeted at students in third through fifth grade.

The components of the CATCH program include classroom curriculum, food service modifications, physical education improvements and family reinforcement to reduce cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes risk factors in youth.

"Children need to learn the importance of regular exercise, as well as how to eat healthier," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "More emphasis is needed on eating fruits and vegetables than on consuming fats, sugars and carbohydrates, and becoming physically active. This program can help teach children at an early age what they can do for a lifetime of good health."

Each school selected to participate in the CATCH program receives about $6,000 in federal funds from the Illinois Department of Public Health to complete a school health assessment, using the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention School Health Index; to implement the program curriculum; and do an evaluation of the program during the 2004-2005 school year.


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Teachers and staff from the additional 14 schools were recently trained and will begin the school assessment and program in the fall. Nutrition and health promotion experts from the Department of Public Health will provide technical assistance to the schools throughout the school year to assure program compliance and implementation.

The following schools were chosen to participate:

  • Beyer Elementary School, Rockford
  • Carlinville Intermediate School, Carlinville
  • Franklin Elementary School, Dolton
  • Grant Intensive Basic School, Rock Island
  • Herrin Elementary School, Herrin
  • Iles Elementary, Springfield
  • Lake Crest Elementary School, Oakland
  • Loves Park Elementary School, Loves Park
  • New Central School, Havana
  • Reed-Custer Intermediate School, Braidwood
  • Selmaville North Elementary, Salem
  • Sunny Hill Elementary, Carpentersville
  • Webster Elementary, Rushville
  • Westhaven Elementary, Belleville

Schools were selected based on several key factors: current cardiovascular health, obesity and environmental program efforts within the community; previous program implementation through the Illinois Health and Wellness Initiatives grants; an expressed interest in the CATCH program; and geographical distribution throughout the state.

The six schools previously selected for the program were Tri-C Elementary School, Carterville; Glendale School, East Peoria; Washington Elementary School, Waukegan; Sihler School/Litchfield pre-K, Litchfield; Melody Elementary School, Chicago; and Paul Bolin School, East Peoria.

[News release from the governor's office]

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