Thursday, 23 May 2013 00:00
Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club Triple Play initiative is a healthy lifestyle program encouraging club members to participate in daily physical activity, take charge of their own nutritional well-being and engage in productive social interaction to forge positive relationships with friends and staff. The goal of the program, sponsored by WellPoint Foundation and The Coca-Cola Company, is to empower club members by providing them with the necessary tools to make wholesome, practical and well-balanced choices.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 16 percent of children and teens—nearly nine million young people—are considered overweight. With childhood obesity in the United States at epidemic levels, the physical and psychological ramifications on a child can be daunting, affecting their overall health and self-esteem. The implementation of the Triple Play initiative is a crucial addition to the club’s programs and an effort to offset these frightening statistics. It is an essential component to its mission to inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive and responsible citizens. The club’s Director of Operations, Franca Trunzo, Youth Program Director Sara Laskow, Youth Sports & Fitness Coordinator John Andree, and Education Coordinator Allison Kaiser are overseeing this program.
The staff has divided the Triple Play program into three components, with each staff member overseeing a specific segment of the plan to ensure success of the entire initiative.
Segment one focuses on fitness and exercise. The purpose of this segment is to not only get the kids involved in exercise, but to increase the amount of time club members spend daily on physical activity. The goal is to encourage members to dedicate at least one hour a day to physical fitness through an assortment of daily challenges, including warm up, stretching, jogging, bone strengthening exercises, and a variety of organized indoor and outdoor sports and activities.
Segment two of the program integrates nutrition into the Triple Play experience. Healthy Habits is an ongoing part of this curriculum, providing weekly lessons designed to help members gain knowledge about nutrition, learn how to make better food choices, understand appropriate portion sizes, and create fun and healthy meals. The club has partnered with Long Island Cares, a nonprofit food bank, to provide members with healthy snacks like apples, oranges and bananas, in an effort to cultivate their taste for fruit. Taking the program one step further, dietitian students from Long Island University, are volunteering their time to offer kids a course entitled “Healthy Lifeskills Cooking Up Energy,” incorporating healthy eating habits through hands-on cooking classes. Meals prepared meet the USDA guidelines and members follow kid favorite recipes with a healthier twist. According to research done by the University of Alberta, Canada, “the best way to get your child to eat healthier foods—and actually enjoy them—is to have them help with meal preparation.” The report also found that “kids who did meal prep and cooking were more confident about the importance of making healthier food choices.”
Segment three of the program targets the mental wellness of members by helping develop strong social skills through a variety of well-rounded structured and spontaneous activities. Kids get to play with their friends, challenge each other and compete for prizes. In a society where children playing video games or spending time alone on a computer is a very much a reality, it is even more important to get kids involved in an interactive and social setting, where they can take part in fun activities with their friends. “We are noticing that the more involved club members are in this part of the program, the more responsive they are to playing games with their friends including sports. Whether it is pingpong in the games room or soccer in the gymnasium, the addition of the physical activity is also leading them to make better food choices,” observed Franca Trunzo, director of operations.