Three University of Nevada Cooperative Extension educators earned an Award of Excellence from the Western Extension Directors Association this week.
Anne Lindsay, Teresa Byington and Madeleine Sigman-Grant were honored for their work in creating the All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program, which targets the childhood obesity problem in Nevada.
All three were on hand to accept the award in Park City, Utah, during the WEDA Joint Meeting this week.
“This is a great honor for our faculty,” said Cooperative Extension Dean and Director Karen Hinton. “All 4 Kids is truly an innovative program and deserves this recognition.”
Almost a third of Nevada children entering kindergarten are overweight or obese, so the three faculty members combined their expertise on a program that has reached more than 4,000 preschoolers, parents and preschool teachers. Lindsay is an exercise physiologist, while Sigman-Grant is an area Extension Specialist in maternal child nutrition and Byington is an area Extension Specialist in early childhood development.
“The main objectives of the program are to teach preschoolers and their families to increase consumption of healthy foods – specifically fruits and vegetables – increase competency and confidence in movement skills, which can lead to increased levels of physical activity, and to encourage everyone to develop and practice healthy habits regardless of their size or shape,” Byington said.
Lindsay noted that each lesson teaches the children a nutrition concept and utilizes dance, a lifetime skill, to introduce children to the specific movements outlined in the Nevada Pre-K Standards. Four original songs and dances were created that span multiple musical genres and include choreography based on the Nevada Pre-K standards.
A key element of the program is the way it encourages families to build healthy habits together, Sigman-Grant added.
Each week children receive an All 4 Kids Family Pack containing a health-related activity for the family to complete together as well as a Family Connection Newsletter for caregivers. Parents and caregivers are invited to attend a monthly Family Event.
“Together, families and children learn to be healthy, happy, active and fit,” Sigman-Grant said.
All 4 Kids is expanding nationwide as a result of a recent USDA NIFA Obesity Prevention grant to preschools. Expansion has occurred in northern Nevada, Oklahoma, Connecticut, and New Jersey.