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Increasing families’ physical activity through family fun days

The Issue

In California, poor diet and a lack of physical activity are second only to tobacco use as the leading cause of chronic disease and death. The percentage of deaths attributable to poor diet and physical inactivity is on the rise and expected to surpass tobacco in the near future. Almost 25% of California adults report that they do not engage in any physical activity and 20% of 2 to 11 year olds report watching more than the recommended maximum of television or video games in a typical weekday. In San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, nutrition education participants in UC CalFresh Nutrition Education and partner programs reported that they consider the lack of access to physical activity opportunities in their communities to be a high-priority health concern.

What Has ANR Done?

Based on this data, UC CalFresh staff in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties collaborated with local Public Health Departments in both counties, community-based non-profit organizations, and local schools to develop a series of family-centered nutrition and physical activity events hosted in targeted low-income communities. Educators created 10 activity stations using curricula such as CATCH, Zumba, Eat and Play Together! and Let’s Move! to teach families enjoyable physical activities that can be repeated at home. Participants learned to be role models for their families by meeting recommended weekly physical activity levels through playing active games with their children, as well as regularly engaging in individual exercises. In addition, families received nutrition education and healthy food demonstrations using Harvest of the Month and Choose MyPlate: Ten Tips Nutrition Education Series curricula. Participants were also given the opportunity to taste healthy food and fruit-infused water samples using seasonal ingredients.

The Payoff

400+ low-income community members learn to increase their families’ healthy behaviors

The partnership between UC CalFresh, local public health departments, seven schools, and community-based organizations enabled the events to reach communities with a wider array of activities tailored to individual preferences and abilities that would not have been possible through a single agency acting on its own. During the summer of 2014, more than 400 community members in both counties participated in the Family Fun Days. Informal qualitative interviews with two key community stakeholders and six collaborators revealed two meaningful themes: (1) Families have high levels of desire to engage in community-sponsored family physical activity events, particularly in the summer months; and (2) Family members see these events as opportunities to bond with each other in a fun way in order to achieve positive health outcomes. Numerous participants indicated that they learned transferable skills related to nutrition and physical activity that they will incorporate into other areas of their lives.

Clientele Testimonial

“I got such good ideas for snacks and activities from the event. Kids loved it and I really enjoyed it!” -Yadira Mendoza, local family childcare provider


Supporting Unit:

UCCE Youth, Families, and Communities Program, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program
Shannon Klisch, UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program Supervisor, San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara Counties (805) 781-5951

Katherine E. Soule, Youth, Families, & Communities Advisor, San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara Counties (805) 781-4093