A new collaboration between St. Mary’s Health Clinics and Risen Christ Catholic School (RCCS) in Minneapolis aims to reduce the risk of childhood obesity and Type II diabetes in low-income children of color. Funded by a Healthy Behaviors Grant from the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the creative E3 (Eat, Exercise, Educate) Program promotes physical activity and healthy eating habits through fun-filled fitness activities and educational events throughout the school day and year.
Ninety-five percent of RCCS’s students come from families who are living either at or below the poverty line. In addition to engaging students, the E3 program educates their parents and families. RCCS is a 310-student, K-8 grade school located in the Powderhorn Park area.
“Getting the entire family engaged in a healthy lifestyle can help make fitness and nutrition a lifelong practice,” said Helen Dahlman, president of RCCS. “The overarching goal of the E3 program is to address the needs of the whole child. Children cannot succeed academically if they have limited outlets for active play and if they are not well nourished.
“Educating families is a critical component of this endeavor. As the younger children learn to develop healthy habits, the more likely they are to last a lifetime.”
The E3 Fitness Club gives K-8 students the opportunity to get their recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Instructors lead activities in basketball, soccer, martial arts, breakdancing and yoga. In addition, the program offers classes in African and Aztec dance, and capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art and dance combination.
U of M graduate students from the School of Public Health design and lead lessons in the areas of art, literacy, nutrition and physical fitness. On average, 40-50 students have been attending the E3 Fitness Club every day in just its first semester of operation.
In addition to sports and dance, the E3 program includes a pedometer competition, which teaches students how to track and compute their average daily steps, then rewards the class that has earned the highest average of daily steps with active, action-oriented and sports-related field trips. E3 family nights offer Zumba and yoga classes, as well as free screenings for blood pressure and blood sugar, nutrition consultations, and even cooking demonstrations.
Information provided by RCCS. For more information, contact Shannon Gavin at 612-822-5329 x220 or [email protected].