District 300 students ‘CATCH’ on to health

CARPENTERSVILLE – District 300 isn’t a couch potato. Officials in a partnership are retooling the district’s physical education to stem childhood obesity.

The district and Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington have joined this year to develop the nationally renowned Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program that focuses elementary students on health, fitness and nutrition in and outside the classroom.

Good Shepherd has provided training and resources for suburban school districts to develop the CATCH program since 2008. The program emphasizes healthy living through more-active physical education classes and learning about nutrition.

“Childhood obesity is a health concern that has no boundaries. It affects every kid in every community,” said Julie Mayer, community and government relations director at Good Shepherd. “The whole premise of CATCH is not only to teach them, but having them moving while doing it.”

Texas University researchers developed the tenets of CATCH in 1988. Today, at least 8,500 schools nationwide use it. Good Shepherd has helped develop the curriculum at 23 schools, including ones in Crystal Lake District 47. D-300 will use the program this year with fourth- and fifth-graders at Westfield, Sleepy Hollow and Meadowdale elementaries.

Students will participate in additional gym class activities that complement the day’s lesson. If students are learning the rules of soccer, they’ll do an exercise that reinforces those rules, Mayer said.

Students also will be provided with nutrition information in the cafeteria through a system of color codes; red, yellow and green labels will tell students which foods are healthy and which are fattening.

Physical education teachers will test students’ fitness levels and nutrition knowledge twice a year. Their findings will be sent to parents in a fitness report card.

Andy Lambert, a P.E. teacher at Dundee-Crown High School, said the partnership with Good Sheperd is ideal to promote wellness at a time when obesity is a growing health epidemic.

A report Tuesday by the Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, projected that half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030, based on current health trends. Illinois’ adult obesity rate is projected to rise to 53 percent by 2030 from the current 27 percent.

Lambert said District 30 eventually will use CATCH in all of its elementary schools. It’s up to him to implement the program this year at Westfield, Sleepy Hollow and Meadowdale.

“It’s more of an opportunity to promote a general health issue,” Lambert said. “Certainly, there are kids in the district with health issues, and we want to work with them, as we promote general health issues.”

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