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Humana Healthy Kids Zone

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Innovation Leader: Kate Lawrence, Programs & Exhibits Coordinator, Kate.Lawrence@cincinnatilibrary.org

Problem Statement

Many children living in neighborhoods surrounding fourteen Library locations are from low-income families. They often lead sedentary lifestyles without access to healthy foods, leading to high rates of obesity and poor health.

Innovation

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County received a $50,000 grant from The Humana Foundation to start the Humana Healthy Kids Zone (HKZ). The HKZ took place during the summer of 2009 at thirteen Library branches and the Main Library. HKZ programs occurred weekly and were comprised of a 30-minute fitness activity, a 15-minute nutrition lesson and at the end of the program, each child received a healthy snack. For each program that a child attended and participated in, they received a prize, such as a jump rope or water bottle, and an entry into a grand prize drawing for a Wii gaming system and Active Life Outdoor Challenge Game. Each child also received a book on a health or fitness topic.

The weekly programs incorporated a variety of topics and activities. “Programs-in-a Box” were created prior to the summer. These programs-in-a-box contained all of the materials, supplies and instructions that the children’s librarians would need to conduct the programs. These programs rotated between each location, to ensure that children were receiving consistent information. Topics included food groups and the food pyramid, portion sizes, the importance of drinking water and how to read a nutrition label.

Outside health and fitness professionals also helped conduct programs. The YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Ballet and professional yoga and dance instructors served as instructors throughout the summer.

Progress

The HKZ was extremely successful. A total of 3,833 children participated in the programs and staff immediately saw the impact that the programs were having on children in their communities. They especially noticed that children were changing their eating habits and by the end of the program, they were more willing to try new and healthier foods. Parents also commented that their children were encouraging them to eat better at home and exercise more.

The Library will continue the HKZ throughout the summer of 2010.