Claudia Probart, PhD, RD, Elaine McDonnell, MS, RD Charles Orlofsky, BA, J.Elaine, Weirich, M Ed, Pat Birkenshaw, MA, Vonda Fekete, MS, RD
Objective: Participants will identify and become familiar with educational materials and approaches to provide education about childhood obesity to recruit parents and school personnel to join school wellness councils.
Abstract: The necessity to form school wellness councils to address childhood obesity has created a need for educational and motivational materials for parents and others. Through Project PA, a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Penn State University, a kit was developed to address childhood obesity, and to recruit parents to join school wellness councils. The kit, “Preventing Childhood Overweight and Obesity: Parents Can Make a Difference,” includes a motivational video and print materials that were developed using Social Ecological Theory which suggests multiple intervention opportunities including through homes, schools, and communities. Kits were distributed to multiple school-based audiences in Pennsylvania and to the National PTA Executive Board. A 36-item pre/post questionnaire was developed to evaluate the kit and to assess perceptions of childhood obesity and likelihood to take action. The kit was presented and the questionnaire was administered to groups of 42 SFS employees and 49 school health team members (through a collaboration with Pennsylvania Action for Healthy Kids). Results indicated significant increases in perceived preparedness to recruit parents to join school wellness teams, greater recognition of the problem of childhood obesity, and stronger agreement that parents can have an impact on school nutrition environments. Additional evaluation results will be presented. This kit has potential usefulness as a tool to recruit parents to join school wellness councils to develop wellness policies as mandated by The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. This project was funded by a USDA Team Nutrition Training Grant administered through PDE.