Fresno County Public Library
In Fresno County the overweight and obesity rate for adults is 57.8% compared to an average of 56.1% for California. For school age children, the overweight rate is over 30%. Being obese or overweight contributes to chronic illnesses such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and cerebral vascular disease. In addition, Fresno County is 5th worst in air quality in California and has one of the highest rates of childhood asthma in the nation. Being surrounded by mountains and with the environmental issues associated with farming, Fresno County often issues alerts to avoid outdoor physical activity, primarily in the summer months, making it difficult for children and adults to maintain an active lifestyle to manage a healthy weight.
In 2008, Fresno County Public Library was one of 17 libraries nation-wide to receive a Fit for Life Grant from Libraries for the Future, funded by MetLife Foundation for Brain Health programming. The library solicited additional grants from Kaiser Permanente and First 5 Fresno County. At the conclusion of the grant in 2010, it was discovered that the $5,000 from Kaiser Permanente had not been spent. Since one of the 5 elements for brain health is physical activity, Kaiser approved the library's proposal to purchase Wii Gaming Systems for 6 high-use metropolitan branches to promote safe, indoor physical activity.
All six branches schedule regular gaming. For example, the Gillis Branch facilitates Wii Gaming every afternoon after school using a subsidized worker. He sets up the games, makes sure the children are playing safely and that everyone gets a chance to play. There is always a crowd present and they are in a safe environment as they make use of all their energy. The mix is generally 80% school age and 30% teens. One group of ladies plays a bowling game and is planning a tournament for the future. Other branches schedule Wii Fit programs for seniors and competitions for school age and teens utilizing a combination of paid and volunteer staffing. In addition to physical activity, the benefits to program participants include team building skills, hand/eye coordination, and leadership skills.