A lack of physical activity and childhood obesity rates are a growing concern for Lake County youth, especially during summer when there is an increase of unstructured time for school-age youth. In response, 4-H in Lake County developed a diverse, community-wide team to address and increase physical activity of youth through a summer-long program.
The result was iTri, a seven-week program to increase youth physical activity. Each week, instructors from a local group, club, business or agency highlighted a new skill or local recreational opportunity. “Squads” of five to eight youths of similar age were led by teen staff in warm-up exercises and provided support as squad members rotated to stations to learn that week’s skill and nutrition lesson.
Participants in iTri were provided a magnetic whiteboard physical activity tracker to encourage activity at home between sessions. Those who met their goals were provided incentives, such as bike locks, swim goggles and reflective shoe laces.
The program engaged 65 youth participants, 12 teen staff members and more than 20 community volunteers. On average, youth participants attended five of the seven weekly sessions, engaging an average of 10 hours of direct education. “It was something she looked forward to each week,” said one parent. Another parent said, “It was a positive experience. It helped to get my kids to really into thinking about their health.”