The increased worldwide prevalence of overweight and sedentary children has led to concerns about the future health of this generation. If children are watching excessive amounts of television while not engaging in age appropriate physical activities, what is this doing to their well-being? And importantly, what can we do now to change this dangerous trend? The answer came when the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership was selected to participate in Healthcare Georgia Foundation’s Childhood Physical Activity and Nutrition (CPAN) program. Matching funds were needed and the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia came through with the funding in year one with some additional support from WellCare of Georgia and AMERIGROUP Community Care. Proceeds from the Healthcare Partnership’s Bill Gregory Healthcare Classic also contributed to the CPAN initiative.
The purpose of the three-year initiative was to address childhood obesity through school and community programs that increase physical activity and improve nutrition. Directing these efforts to population groups impacted by health disparities was strongly encouraged. Carmel Cowart, RN, CHES was selected as the School Wellness Coordinator of the CPAN program. Year one’s focus was on ten local elementary schools: Blue Ridge, Brookwood, City Park and Westwood from Dalton Public Schools, Eton, Northwest and Spring Place in Murray County and Dawnville, Dug Gap and Varnell in Whitfield County. Year two focused on all elementary schools in all three school districts; Whitfield County, Murray County and Dalton Public Schools. Year three included every school in all three school districts including Dalton Middle and Dalton High School.
The CPAN initiative worked with five essential elements: the classroom teacher, the cafeteria environment, the physical education program, an overall school-wide campaign, and parent outreach. Teachers were provided with support and resources for health, PE and nutrition education in the classroom and after-school programs. Parent outreach events were conducted based on the needs of each school community. Events were designed to provide helpful information on how to best fit healthy eating and physical activity into our families’ lives.
The CPAN program grant expired in June 2009.