United Way helping fourth graders work on healthy lifestyle

| January 6, 2017

exercise ballCOSHOCTON – Did you know that more than one in three children (ages 10-17) in Ohio are overweight or obese?

United Way of Coshocton County wanted to do something to help change this fact so for the second year in a row they have organized Crunch for Health.

Fourth graders in the county’s public and private schools were all provided with an exercise ball and journal to be used in their physical education classes and eventually at home. Last year the program was funded through grant dollars provided by the Simpson Family Fund and a contribution from Kiwanis. This year funding was provided by the Muskingum Valley Health Center and the Family & Children First Council.

“MVHC is pleased to partner with United Way, Family & Children First and the school systems in Coshocton County to provide the Crunch for Health Program to over 400 fourth grade students,” said Randy L. Cochrane, MVHC Chief Development Officer. “MVHC realizes the importance of children maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity for one hour or more each day and the Crunch for Health Program can play an important role in achieving that goal.”

Lyn Mizer, executive director of United Way of Coshocton County, said they borrowed the idea from Ashland County’s United Way.

“An advantage of belong to the (United Way) network is that we get to hear about best practices and borrow and adapt them,” she said. “We also only wanted to do this if the teachers found it helpful. The time they have with kids is so limited, but it fit right into their curriculum and supplemented what they are already doing.”

While they have their exercise balls in school, the students are taught different ways to use them for exercise and discuss nutritional topics such as portion control and healthy snack options. Their journal then serves as a reminder of what they’ve learned with pictures and information on how to do the exercises and nutrition tips.

“We thought fourth grade was a good age for this because their play time is cut because of school and they have to start being more intentional about being active,” Mizer said. “Screens also are constantly calling them with television and computers. They almost have to be made to play.”

Last year United Way had the fourth graders write essays about their experience and awarded prizes for the best essay. Mizer plans to do the same things this year and offer similar prizes such as passes to Kids America and the Lake Park Aquatic Center. They also got feedback from parents who shared that their children were more diligent about exercising and making better choices for snacks.

“Our hope is that once they take that ball home they will continue talking about healthy choices and exercising with their parents,” Mizer said. “We hope we can keep doing it. Anyone wanting to make a donation to the program is absolutely welcome to.”

For more on United Way of Coshocton County, visit www.coshoctonunitedway.org.



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Category: Clubs & Organizations

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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