The following press release is from Kaiser Permanente.
By Elizabeth Schainbaum and Karl Sonkin
If anyone knows about staying fit, it’s a professional athlete.
And what 9-year-old doesn’t want to be like a ball-dribbling superstar?
That’s the idea behind Kaiser Permanente’s support of the Get Earthquakes Fit! program. The two Kaiser medical centers in the Silicon Valley have teamed up with the Santa Clara County Office of Education and the San Jose Major League Soccer team for a five-week school exercise program, designed to increase physical activity at school and at home.
Recently, the program came to Milpitas.
After a recent opening assembly at Randall Elementary School in Milpitas, the 66 kids ran around with the soccer-ball themed Frisbees they received.
“It’s awesome!” said third-grader Aaliyah of the program. “If we work hard, one of the (Earthquakes) teammates will come out.”
“We wanted this program to be fun and easy so kids enjoy being active,” said Jed Mettee, vice president of marketing and communications for the Earthquakes. In partnership wtih Kaiser Permanente, the team aims to promote healthy lifestyles, he added.
Launched last year with a pilot at 13 schools, the program is expected to be in 25 schools in Santa Clara County by year's end, with about 5,000 third- and fourth-graders participating. The program targets schools that lack a physical-education department program due to budget cuts.
A healthy lifestyle is slipping away from today’s young people. The share of American children ages 6 to 11 who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obese youth are more likely to have health problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
“By showcasing professional athletes and physicians in a school setting, our goal is to help teachers and parents reinforce the message of eating right and staying active in a fun and engaging way,” said Irene Chavez, Kaiser San Jose’s senior vice president and area manager.
Chris Boyd, senior vice president and area manager, Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara, added: “Together we’re helping to build healthier lives and stronger communities.”
The Get Earthquakes Fit! program begins with a school assembly, in which a KP physician emphasizes the program’s major messages—good nutrition, regular exercise, and minimal screen time—in a question-and-answer format.
The physician shows the first in a series of short videos featuring Earthquakes players Jason Hernandez and Shea Salinas, who demonstrate their favorite exercises.
Milpitas Kaiser pediatrician Dr. Virginia Hsu encouraged the children at Randall to “drink lots of water like Jason and Shea,” eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, exercise an hour daily, and limit screen time.
The four-minute video concludes with a game Hernandez says will help participants create goal-making opportunities. In it participants learn to change their speed quickly, alternating from hopping like a kangaroo, moving fast like a cheetah, and slowing down like a turtle.
Each week, students watch another short video featuring Hernandez, Salinas, and various KP pediatricians who work at KP San Jose or KP Santa Clara. The classroom teacher incorporates the program’s exercises for 20 minutes a day for the next five weeks. At the end of the program, there’s another assembly in which an Earthquakes player or two leads drills for the children, presents completion certificates, and signs autographs.
Randall Elementary physical education coach Debbie Wells said she believes the program gives credibility to messages about eating right and being active.
“It’s good that it’s a doctor saying it or the Earthquakes saying it.”