Healthy Activity

Healthy Activity 2017-04-11T08:48:55+00:00

For young children, physical activity means active play.  Active play is a child’s context for learning.  It helps them explore their world and figure out how they fit into it.  Active play helps children grow healthy bodies with strong bones and muscles.  Many young children in Cuyahoga County live in environments where there are few opportunities for active play.  Sometimes their neighborhoods are unsafe.  Sometimes they don’t have the resources that they need to make play happen.  Even still, some children lack a role model to teach them how to play.

Our Goal: Young children in Cuyahoga County will have more opportunities for active play every day.

Strategies for change: The table below creates a picture of healthy activity for young children in Cuyahoga County.  EAHS is working to implement the following strategies to change the landscape of healthy activity for all young children.

Adults who care for young children do not have attitudes that support increased physical activity.

  • While conducting national focus groups, researchers found that early care and education providers do not always know the best practices for physical activity in the early care setting.
  • Both child care centers and family child care homes feel that adult interest (both staff and parents) is a very important factor in choosing how much physical activity the children get.

In Cuyahoga County, both children and adults have busy schedules with limited time for active play. 

  • A county-wide health status assessment found that more than half of adults in Cuyahoga County do not get the recommended amount of physical activity.

In Northeast Ohio, weather can play a big part in active play.  Adults who care for young children do not always know how to include physical activity in small spaces or think that you need expensive equipment for active play.

  • Early care and education providers note that weather and knowledge of activities for smaller spaces play a big part in meeting physical activity recommendations.
  • Early Ages Healthy Stages coalition members will work together to expand the outreach and scale of Ohio Healthy Programs trainings and technical assistance through formal partnerships with organizations that support early care and education facilities.
    • Ohio Healthy Programs helps early care and education providers build on knowledge and skills to increase physical activity in their facilities.
  •  Early Ages Healthy Stages leadership will collaborate with local content experts to provide opportunities for follow-on support for Ohio Healthy Programs through newsletters and the creation of a professional development refresher series.
    • Like all programs, excitement for Ohio Healthy Programs can diminish over time.
  • Early Ages Healthy Stages coalition members will collaborate with content experts and program planners to develop parent engagement tool kits to help build family engagement around active play.
    • Early care and education professionals are a trusted source of health information for the families in their care. We will continue to support these professionals as key health resource persons in their communities.

Early care and education providers will improve knowledge, skills, and attitudes about active play that will result in increased opportunities for active play for young children in early care and education facilities.  Early Ages Healthy Stages will accomplish this by forming partnerships with at least 3 organizations that support early care and education providers.  By December 31, 2020, Cuyahoga County will be home to over 100 Ohio Healthy Programs and counting.  We will ensure that momentum for Ohio Healthy Programs best practices continues each year by creating 5, 30 minute, professional development refresher courses on topics that are important to our community.  We will continue to engage with our Ohio Healthy Program providers through monthly newsletters and ongoing technical support visits.

Families of young children will build knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about physical activity from a familiar, trusted source- their early care and education provider.  Early Ages Healthy Stages will facilitate this growth by engaging with parents and families about issues that matter to them most.  We will use this information to develop and pilot a series of 4-5 family engagement tool kits that early care and education providers can use that include short trainings, activities, handouts, bulletin boards, and newsletter templates.  We will collect information from families by December 31st 2017.  Toolkits will be developed and piloted at multiple site by December 31st, 2018.  In January of 2019, toolkits will be available to providers and we will continue to collect data to evaluate the impact of this program.

Many communities lack access to safe spaces for active play for young children.

  • Focus groups conducted among early care and education providers found that safety is the most important factor when choosing physical activity.
  • Moreover, Cuyahoga County is below the national benchmark of recreation facilities per capita.

In Cuyahoga County, many neighborhoods lack the resources needed to invest in places for young children to play.  Because of this, many playgrounds and equipment are outdated or unsafe for young children.

  • Community members throughout Cuyahoga County note that crime is prevalent in and around community spaces where young children play.  The national benchmark for violent crimes per capita is 73 per 100,000.  In Cuyahoga county, the rate is 663 per 100,000.  In Cleveland, the rate is 1,507 per 100,000.  The high crime rate greatly impacts parents and caregivers ability to feel safe while engaging in active play with their children.

In addition to crime, EAHS coalition members throughout Cuyahoga County perceive that safe places to play were difficult to access due to logistical issues like distance, parking, and traffic.

  • Early Ages Healthy Stages team members will develop a mini grant programs for communities and organizations to update play spaces.  
    • Community residents are the best experts in choosing where play spaces for young children will be best utilized. We will work with local organizations, institutions, and community development corporations to establish more spaces that are conducive to early childhood, play-based learning.
  •  Early Ages Healthy Stages will partner with community organizations and institutions to establish shared used agreements to share safe places for active play.
    • Many communities throughout Cuyahoga County are home to safe spaces, like churches and schools. Making these safe spaces accessible to early care and education providers and families of young children helps increase physical activity and build community.
  • Early Ages Healthy Stages will Engage community resources (schools, churches, parks, recreation centers, etc.) to partner on ongoing events and programs for early childhood wellness. 
    • Community events and resource fairs that reach families of young children where they live are great strategies to get families connected to what is happening in their communities.  During these events we will provide tools and incentives to support families of young children in reaching their best health.

Throughout 2017, we will hold town hall forums and community meetings within different neighborhood throughout Cuyahoga County to identify people and places that would have a desire to improve existing spaces to be more appropriate for early childhood activity.  Once we better understand the needs of our diverse community, we will seek funding for a mini-grant program that community organizations, recreation centers, and community development corporations may apply for in early 2018.  By March of 2018, the funding will be distributed and volunteer and in-kind support for each project will be identified.  Each project will have one year to be completed, by March of 2019.

Early Ages Healthy Stages will also work to ensure that existing safe spaces for active play are made available to the early childhood community when appropriate.  Following our community town hall meetings, we will identify strategic partners and institutions throughout Cuyahoga County that are interested in establishing shared use agreements for early childhood activity.  In collaboration with these institutions and local experts, we will develop a model for shared use that is specific to early childhood wellness that can be replicated throughout Cuyahoga County and beyond.

To highlight the innovation and collaboration of our grant recipients and shared used sites, Early Ages Healthy Stages will plan community events at different sites each quarter, starting in summer of 2017.  Each event will engage families and the community in early childhood wellness.  We will also include online marketing and resources to coincide with each event.  These events will improve recognition of Early Ages Healthy Stages throughout Cuyahoga County, improve parent and provider knowledge of resources that exist within their community, and increase capacity for future activities.

Young children are getting more than the recommended amount of screen time. 

  • Screen time recommendations are no screen time for children younger than 2, 2 hours for children older than 2, and 30 minutes a day for children while in the early care setting.
  • Nationwide statistics show that only 1 in 3 children are active every day.
  • A nation-wide survey of early care and education providers found children under 2 received no screen time in about half of the child care centers and one third of the family childcare homes being surveyed.  Children over 2 received 30 minutes or less screen time per day most of the time in both child care center and family child care home settings.

When mixed age groups occur in child care facilities, screens are used to keep children safe and occupied.

  • Serving mixed age groups was a major reason challenge to limiting media use for both centers and family child care homes.

Parental involvement in limiting screen time use is seen as a barrier by early care and education providers.

  • Many early care and education providers, as well as parents see value in some screen time, as long as it is educational.

Because screen time activities and devices are used so commonly by older children and adults, they are seen as desirable to young children.

  • Youth survey data found that of middle school youth in Cuyahoga County, 32% watch TV for 3 hours or more a day, 47% play video games for 3 hours or more, and 47% use a computer for things other than school.
  •  Early Ages Healthy Stages will plan a county-wide marketing campaign and event series that coincides with National Screen Free week. 
    • In addition to training and technical assistance to early care and education providers on ways to reduce screen time, National Screen Free Week encourages families to unplug from screens and connect with friends and family.

National Screen Free Week occurs throughout the United States and encourages families and providers to celebrate the joy of life beyond screens.  National Screen Free week occurs every year in early May and coincides with Children’s Book Week.  In May of 2017, Early Ages Healthy Stages will explore partnerships to begin our participation in National Screen Free Week.  We will assess our potential impact of using National Screen Free week, using this knowledge to ramp up our activity in 2018 and 2019.  By 2018, we will use National Screen Free week to kick off summer events focused on family engagement, increased physical activity, and improved literacy.

Key Messages handouts:

Reduce Screen Time!

An Hour a Day to Play!

Cold Weather Fun!


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