Minnesota Hospital Association


February 04, 2016

Sanford Health activates healthy behaviors across the community

Presented by Sanford Health, fit (www.sanfordfit.org) is an effective and engaging system of resources developed to provide a community service that captivates children’s excitement, arms them with knowledge they need to make healthy choices, then activates them to make a habit of healthy choices.

Prompted by the desire to activate healthy habits in children, fit offers a whole-child approach to health promotion that reaches not only the child, but also the parents and the network of caregivers that influence the child. fit goes beyond the traditional health topics of nutrition and exercise with an approach that includes:

  • RECHARGE (sleep and rest) and MOOD (willingness to make healthy choices)
  • FOOD (nutrition choices) and MOVE (physical activity)

The program highlights having proper motivation and enough energy to be able to choose healthy foods and to be physically active.

fit offers free resources, developed through partnerships with health and education professionals, to activate children’s healthy habits. Programs are well-matched to a child’s developmental level, interests and different community settings:

  • fitCare (early childhood): A four-part, eight-hour program to teach caregivers why, what and how to educate young children about healthy choices. Includes tips, tools and resources to activate children and educate parents to make fit choices.
  • fit4Schools (elementary age): Weekly health activation topics, presented as 5-10 minute daily modules, are designed to captivate, educate and activate healthy behavior choices. Additional lesson plans and units can be downloaded for classroom use.
  • fitClub (after-school programs): A 10-session program that teaches girls and boys ages 8-11 the importance of healthy lifestyle choices through energetic, interactive lessons and games.
  • fit online (all ages): fit website that includes a series of medically reviewed, quality content developed in partnership with WebMD that is geared to parents, caregivers, teens, elementary-age children and preschoolers.

More than 1,200 students and 800 caregivers have participated in these programs since 2013. Evaluations show an increase in knowledge and healthy practices:

  • Before and after knowledge assessments of over 800 caregivers participating in fitCare training indicated an overall knowledge gain of 1.32 points on a 10-point scale.
  • Formative evaluations conducted with schools between 2013 and 2015 demonstrated an impact on both students and educators. Educators reported an increase in their students actively making healthy choices and being more involved in promoting healthy behaviors. One respondent said, “I find it’s easy to get some little snippets in when we are lining up, getting ready for lunch. We just talk about, ‘How was your mood today, what did you do today, what did you do for your mood or to recharge?’”
  • Over 200 girls participated in fitClub during 2014-15. Post-program surveys indicated a decrease in screen time usage and an increase in making healthier choices after-school, when participants were bored or tired.