After School Program Aims To Get Kids Healthier

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, one out of six kids struggles with childhood obesity.  That’s why the Sioux Falls School District and Sanford Health are teaming up, offering a free after-school activity.

It’s a program younger than the students it aims to help.  It’s called Fit Club and it’s free to 4th and 5th grade students in Sioux Falls.  The program was created in 2012 with a goal of helping students learn about mood, movement, food, and learning healthy habits.

“Each time that they come and meet, they have a healthy snack together and then they go through the curriculum.  So, there’s a set curriculum for each week,” says Sioux Falls School District Instructional Planning Center Health Services Supervisor Molly Satter.

The program is offered for ten weeks after school, with sessions in the fall and the spring.  Each session can take up to 20 students.

“Combining physical activity with intentional learning is what we like to call it. With really the intention is not just to get the kids to act while they are within the setting of the fit club but to try to educate them on what it means to make healthy choices,” says Sanford Health Children’s Health & Fitness Director Neal Nachtigall.

Nachtigall says putting the information in the hands of the influencer is key.  Parents, teachers, and other role models who children look up to can help emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

“The results are really great. We hear things anecdotally like, I watch less TV.  I’m getting out and moving more. I’m making better choices of the foods that I’m eating. And so kids really do report back that they are making better and healthier choices,” Satter adds.

Nine Sioux Falls schools offer Fit Club, but it’s also available to other school districts statewide that receive services from Sanford Health.

“You have to reach them where they’re at.  You have to make it engaging.  You have to make it fun,” says Nachtigall.

To learn more about Fit Club, click here.