Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blog Submitted by Dave Law, Executive Director,  Joy Southfield Community Development Corporation, Detroit, MI

Lessons from HEY Detroit.  Healthy Empowered Youth in Detroit (HEY Detroit) is a comprehensive program to curb childhood obesity being coordinated by Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation, with support from Johnson & Johnson, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and numerous other partners.  We recently completed our first family workshop program – Healthy Eating, Activity & Learning (HEAL).  Here are some things we learned.

·         Incentives help – we use progressive incentives for participants, proportionate to the number of workshop sessions attended (up to 6).

·         “Hands-on” is where it’s at – conventional handouts are left behind.  Example - youth enjoyed making food group “bead boxes” (like an abacus) and took them home to help track numbers of servings of different food types.

·         Participants enjoy preparing & eating healthy meals and snacks

·         Youth like physical activity, but if you want to get parents/caregivers involved, you need dancing music.

·         We need to develop incentives for the survey completion, particularly the POST survey.  Mchale Newport-Berra, Trish Hopkins & Susan Eiler did a great job of setting up our database, but we ended up with insufficient data to make significant conclusions about workshop effectiveness, something we plan to correct for our two summer workshops.

·         In the absence of objective data, we received valuable feedback on how to improve the workshops.  We also received a compelling letter from a participant, transcribed here:

May 3, 2011

To Whom It May Concern:

The class was so educational for me and my family.  Each week we learn so many things about the nutrition value and how food can play important role in your family lifestyle.  Last year, I was diagnose with an illness.  This illness was due to poor eating habits that cause fat cells to form bad cells in your body.  The doctor told me to lose weight and change my eating habits.  The class taught us to exercise, cook healthier food, counting calories, how to make choices in a fast-food restaurant, to be more active with your family and how to teach your children that being fit is better than being a couch potato.  I so happy to report me and my family are losing weight and we are much healthier then we once were.  We would like to thank the class and it wonderful staff for their hard work and support.  I feel it couldn’t have come at a better time in my life.  A lot of families would benefit from this program and we hope it come every time for a family to learn and take advantage of this wonderful class.  Thank you, so much, for the wonderful learning opportunity we experience in your class.  Take care and may you be a blessing to anyone who don’t know about how to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Mrs. D.W., HEAL Workshop participant, Winter/Spring 2011