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Childhood obesity tackled by Cascade Health Alliance after school sports program

Community news | Friday, January 26, 2018

Contact: Maria Ramirez

Klamath Falls, OR—Cascade Health Alliance (CHA) is pleased to reveal the successful results of a $15,000 grant to Klamath Falls City Schools. The funds were awarded to support a multifaceted afterschool sports program for 4th and 5th -grade students. Softball, volleyball, basketball, track, and soccer for both boys and girls were among the athletic activities chosen to pioneer this initiative.

In 2015, a partnership with Klamath Falls City Schools, Klamath Union (KU) High School athletic department and the 21st Century afterschool grant program saw a need to reintroduce sports programs in the elementary schools. The goal was to get students active, reduce childhood obesity, and build healthy habits.

"We wanted to promote increased physical activity in younger children," notes Scott Mason, Klamath Union Athletic Director. "Besides the physical benefits, we knew participation would also boost student's self-esteem, teach them about teamwork and leadership skills," Mason added. "CHA's donation has allowed us to pay a modest stipend for coaches, purchase equipment, footwear and provide T-shirts for each team."

The majority of the children in the sports program had no prior athletic experience because the costs to join little league teams are usually prohibitive for most parents. Klamath Falls families are thrilled to have the option to play with no out of pocket fees. KU high school coaches and student-athletes volunteer their time in each sport, providing proper skills development, rules and safety understanding, and officiating games.

"It's rewarding and exciting to see the community response to this afterschool sports program" says Tayo Akins, CEO of Cascade Health Alliance. "At CHA, we know that preventing childhood obesity before it starts is always ideal to managing it as an illness later. We also believe this program addresses other social determinants of poor health that are often overlooked,such as financial resources, accessibility, transportation and a community support system," Akins added.

The partnership has given many students an opportunity to be involved in sports and healthy lifestyle activities that may not have otherwise been possible.