Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center has formed a partnership with the Joliet District 86 Schools, Joliet Park District, Harvey Brooks Foundation and University of IL extension. This coalition is called the Joliet Partners for Healthy Families (JPHF) and was formed in response to the Will County Health Department's 2006 Needs Assessment which stated obesity is one of the top three medical conditions in Will County.
JPHF created an after-school program, Camp Fitness, for third grade students targeting three District 86 schools, Culbertson, Parks Academy, and A.O. Marshall, which started February 28, 2008. The program is held every Tuesday and Thursday and features two sessions: 45 minutes of cardio/strength training and 15 minutes of nutrition/exercise education. Transportation is provided to bring all students home after this program.
Students receive a healthy snack before starting the activities at their respective schools. The students participate in 45 minutes of physical activity, and then learn nutrition/exercise facts in the last 15 minutes of the program during a stretching/cool down period. During this time, instructors reinforce self image and self esteem with the children.
Students were measured at the beginning of the program and will be assessed again at the completion of the program to show what progress has been made by participating in Camp Fitness. Measurements include a nutrition/exercise questionnaire, height and weight measurements as well as a fitness test.
JPHF will also be sponsoring parent workshops next year to encourage parents to become more involved with their children in educating them about healthy nutrition and exercise. Information will be provided about local grocery stores and how to obtain healthy food at a reasonable cost. Parents will also be provided with healthy meal suggestions and recipes to reinforce at home what students learn in Camp Fitness.
Expansion of Camp Fitness
Camp Fitness is expected to expand each year as new third graders begin the program and the existing participants continue to expand their knowledge each year. JPHF will follow the students from third through fifth grade to measure their success in developing more active lifestyles and eating healthier foods. The goal of the program is to expand this initiative into all District 86 schools. JPHF hopes to accomplish this goal by partnering with other agencies in the community and researching grant opportunities to sustain Camp Fitness in the future.