Pediatric Obesity Program Rewards Zion Elementary for Healthy Results
In an effort to reduce childhood obesity and prevent future cases of diabetes, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma (BCBSOK) joined with several Oklahoma schools to participate in the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's school-based Pediatric Obesity and Diabetes Prevention Pilot Program.
Four schools participated, two of which acted as a control group and two of which were engaged in the program. Participating schools were evaluated based on their results, and Zion Elementary received an award and a check for $500 to support their wellness efforts.
"It was a great learning experience that I plan to keep for my class next year," said fourth grade teacher Amanda Crozier.
The components of the school-based pilot were designed to build upon and complement BCBSOK's ongoing school-based nutrition and physical activity programs.
One such program is OrganWise Guys®, a classroom-based program that uses fun characters to help teach young children physiology and lifelong healthy behaviors through read-aloud books, games, dolls and informational videos, along with short periods of physical activity integrated with academic lessons.
"My class enjoyed the OrganWise Guys program," said Valerie Benham, a fourth grade teacher at Zion Elementary. "They learned how to make healthy choices and how important exercise is."
BCBSOK's OrganWise Guys staff coordinated with OSU Cooperative Extension to select schools and train staff on how to utilize the web-based challenge. OSU Cooperative Extension agents participated in the trainings, selected participating schools, trained school staff on implementation and oversaw the activities at the school.
The school-based pilot program consisted of two components: an activity challenge and evaluation tools.
The activity challenge is a Web-based competition that encourages greater physical activity for third-through fifth-grade students. On the website, an avatar represents each child on a virtual adventure around the world. As the child logs physical activity, they progress around the world, meet the "Good Health Club" characters who teach them about healthy habits and earn points to purchase items to customize their avatar.
The evaluation tools help Blue Cross to evaluate the effectiveness of programs. An impact evaluation is conducted through an online survey that aims to measure changes in knowledge and behavior after students are exposed to the school-based program. The outcomes evaluation is a web-based tool to calculate student body mass index percentages over time.
"The Blue Cross and Blue Shield World Quest program was one of the best programs to implement in the school," said Nancy Arnett, OSU Cooperative Extension educator. "We all learned a lot from the experience and I can’t wait to see more schools get involved in the future."
For more information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma's health and wellness programs, go to www.bcbsok.com. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve company, an independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.