Monday, October 25, 2010

Don’t worry! Your kids are safe with us.

Childhood obesity is currently a topic that needs to be addressed immediately. The rate at which children are becoming overweight is astronomical, and steps need to be taken to increase physical activity levels to prevent health problems. Physical inactivity has been linked with major health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and depression (Gill & Williams, 2008). With increased desire to play video games and watch television, children are losing the motivation to be outside and exercise. Often the kids don’t have enough internal motivation to try new things, and need a little bit of a boost to obtain this level. There are not enough adequate programs currently to offer fun programs that promote exercise and well-being. Urban, public school children often come from families of low income and education levels, which can decrease the ability to participate in exercise programs. If we can increase this number of programs available, kids will hopefully increase their desire to exercise while having fun, and get out of the “couch potato” habits that currently dominate our society.

Worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 60% of the current population doesn’t get enough physical activity. Another interesting fact is that those who start activity programs, 50% drop out within 6 months (Gill & Williams, 2008). These figures are both undesirable and unacceptable. The largest theoretical model used to understand motivation is the Transtheoretical Model. This model provides a relationship between readiness and exercise behavior. The stages include precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. Children are often in the precontemplation or contemplation stages, where regular exercise isn’t desired or seriously planned (Gill & Williams, 2008). It is important for exercise programs to get these kids to graduate from contemplation stages and in to action stages. The TTH model has been shown to work well as it treats behavior change as dynamic rather than an all or out approach (Marshall & Biddle, 2001). This model does a good job of actually looking at behaviors and how they affect motivation. Feelings of self-confidence and efficacy seem to plan a large role in the exercise behaviors of children (Nigg & Courneya, 1998). If younger age children don’t find confidence in the activities they participate in, or don’t receive positive support from coaches/parents, there is a greater chance of decreased motivation for exercise. In order to create a successful afterschool program, one must use these models of behavior to establish the best course of action.

The goals of the afterschool program are to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Students in this school more than likely are in a pre-contemplation stage or contemplation stage of the Transtheoretical Model. It will be important to get these students into an active state. In developing the best plan of action for this afterschool program, I will start by evaluating the student’s current behavior levels, looking specifically at self-determination, self-confidence and efficacy. Once I am able to determine the level of help needed, a precise plan of action can be implemented. The overall approach of this program is of course to get more students to be physically active, but also to help these students experience many facets of activity, hopefully establishing permanent habits or goals.

An education program will first be used to educate the kids about physical exercise and how it affects health. Pointing out health problems that can arise from sedentary lifestyles will also occur. After simple but informative educational sessions, it will be important to implement strategies to help increase a desire to partake in the program. One of the biggest strategies will be for the students to increase self-confidence and social building skills. Increasing self-confidence will occur by using positive reinforcement techniques such as appraisal and self-talk. The students should hopefully develop increase intrinsic motivation throughout the course of this program. Not doing the activities to please their parents, but accomplishing tasks that make them feel better about themselves. The program will not be restricted in the types or amount of activities available. By trying to get kids to partake in only a few activities increases the chance of decreasing self-confidence if the child isn’t particularly good at that activity.

Children will be given many opportunities to experience both individual and team building techniques. Certain techniques and activates include but are not restricted to: rope climbing, basketball, football, baseball, running, cycling, jump rope, and weight training. During these activities, it will be essential to be as involved with the children as possible. Helping a student find an activity that they really enjoy and working to develop a sense of self-control for continuing to exercise is important. As stated above: 60% of people leave exercise programs after 6 months. While it is important to find a passion for exercise, children must not try to specialize at early ages as this can lead to future burnout. It must be shown that experiencing many different forms of exercise should be used to prevent this. After a few weeks in the program, each student will be assessed to see how self-confidence levels are progressing. Activities and options for growth will be constantly reviewed in order to keep kids motivated and enthusiastic about exercise. One opinion would be to try and locate local athletes or figures that have “celebrity” status, to come in and talk to the kids about the benefits of exercise and activity.

Hopefully with the implement of this program, these children will spend less time indoors playing video games or sitting on the couch, and will participate in more sport and exercise activities. Not only will this help increase physical health, the children will hopefully make some new friends and also increase their personal self-confidence, efficacy and motivation. If the children benefit from the program, hopefully there will be a spillover of interest by parents, teachers, and citizens to increase general exercise behaviors around the local area.

The main purpose of this paper was to assess the danger of childhood obesity and implement an after school program for overweight children to help increase physical and cognitive behaviors. Most children are in the pre-contemplation or contemplation stage of the Transtheoretical Model, and thus have no desire or relatively no desire to become active. Progressing into the active and maintenance phase is important. Self efficacy scores are lower in the contemplation stage than in active stage (Nigg & Courneya, 1998). It will be essential to address the self-concept and self-confidence issues of children to ensure that everyone should be allowed to exercise regardless of ability. It should be a time of not just healthy activity, but also a time to make friends and explore different types of activities. Positive progression in child program will hopefully spread interest into the local community and increase total exercise activity and healthy habits in general. The time to act on child health problems is now.

Gill, D.L., & Williams, L. (2008). Psychological dynamics of sport and exercise (3rd Ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Marshall, S. J., & Biddle, J. H. (2001). The transtheoretical model of behavior change: A meta-analysis of applications to physical activity and exercise. Annals of Behavior Medicine, 23(4), 229-246.

Nigg, C., & Courneya, K. S. (1998). Transtheoretical model: Examining adolescent exercise behavior. Journal of Adolescent Health, 22, 214-224.

1 comment:

  1. I felt this was a very well written program. Your focus of using the TTM and focusing on getting the children from the pre-contemplation and contemplation stages into the action stage was right on. Increasing the kids' internal motivation will also help increase their self confidence. It is amazing that 50% of people who start an exercise program quit within 6 months. This is a very scary statistic, and getting our children to understand the benefits of exercise will hopefully help lessen this percentage. I loved the variety of activities for the kids to choose from, and I also like the idea of evaluating each of them before the start of the program and after a few weeks to gauge how they are adapting. This will help make sure each child is seeing the benefits of the program, and in turn they should continue that lifestyle as they get older.