Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Impacts on Child Health/Wellness

Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Family & Community Health Agent, Hopkins County, P.O. Box 518, 1200-B West Houston St., Sulphur Springs, TX 75483; 903-885-3443; [email protected]

By Johanna Hicks

According to 2018 statistics, the total Hopkins County population is approximately 36,810 with 24.6 percent under the age of 18; 21.1 percent of children under the age of 17 live in poverty. The Community Health/Wellness Alliance, Hopkins County Master Wellness Volunteers, and the Family & Community Health Committee have been driving forces in addressing issues pertaining to nutrition physical activity and well-being.

“Kids’ Camp: Fun, Food, Fitness” 

“Kids’ Camp: Fun, Food, Fitness” completed its 10th year in 2019. This three-week, nine-session summer camp is targeted toward Sulphur Springs students who had just completed grades 1-4. Three major topics were covered in the camp:

Nutrition

Six sessions focused on a food group and included a hands-on food preparation activity. Cereal snack mix, grape/berry parfait, chicken salad, moo-licious smoothies, black bean and rice salad, and banana pancakes were the hands-on recipes made by campers. We also discussed food safety, kitchen safety, and hand hygiene. Incentive items given to campers included milk cups, drinking bottles, soup mugs and MyPlate plates, along with a certificate of excellence for each food group.

Physical Activity

Six sessions also focused on physical activities. Dr. Angela Doddy implemented “Walk with a Doc” to promote asking questions while the group walked outside, played kickball, and other fun activities. Incentive items distributed were cool neck wraps. Minutes of physical activity were logged for six days as part of the Walk Across Texas initiative. Campers completed 804.65 miles. They also learned that they need 60 minutes of physical activity everyday.

Horticulture

The Hopkins County Master Gardeners conducted 3 sessions. They discussed the importance of plants to provide food and how they need sunlight, food, and water to grow. They also discussed how birds pollinate flowers, eat insects, and provide beauty. Each session provided a hands-on component.

Mini Sessions

Six 30-minute sessions included water safety, stranger danger, fire safety, visit from a police canine, yoga and bicycle safety. Each camper received a bike helmet and safety lights.

The final day of Kids’ Camp was held at Classic Lanes. Campers had unlimited bowling and access to laser tag. Each camper received a cute bag with all their camp activity sheets, awards and crafts projects.

Written evaluation indicated that campers planned to adopt the practices of eating breakfast every day, eating more fruits and vegetables, and drinking more water/less sweetened beverages. Eight-nine percent of the campers indicated that they would use Kids’ Camp recipes at home. Special thanks to the Sulphur Springs Blue Blazes for assisting with each camp session.

Skills Camp

Due to responses from parents whose children had aged-out of Kids’ Camp, a camp for older students was developed to provide learning experiences in a variety of workshops, thus keeping the kids off the couch and away from phones, computers, and video games. 2019 was the fifth year for this four-session camp.

Topics for Skills Camp included Photography, led by Isabel Reyna, Woodworking let by Dennis Sink and Harold Bryant, Baking led by Cindy Welch, and Pet Care let by Linda Hill. Campers were also treated to ice cream at the Southwest Dairy Museum. Take-home items included muffin pans, mini whisks, wooden spoons, measuring cups, hand-crafted wooden tote box which campers built, yard sticks, tape measures and tool aprons.

One hundred percent indicated learning something new and intent to adopt practices learned at camp. Special thanks to Hopkins County Master Wellness Volunteers for assisting with each session.

Dates for the 2020 Kids’ Camp and Skills Camp have been set, and plans will begin after the first of the year. Stay tuned for more impact reports from your Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Hopkins County!

Closing Thought

Make good choices – great things happen! — Nathan Harmon

Author: Faith Huffman

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