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Utah SNAP-Ed Develops Healthy Child-friendly Videos 

| Utah

2023

Summary 

Utah State University Create Better Health (Utah SNAP-Ed) developed the Captain Create mascot and YouTube channel as a tool for teaching children about healthy food choices and the importance of physical activity. 

Purpose    

It can be challenging to encourage children to consume healthy foods regularly when influences such as the media may encourage less healthier food choices. To combat these unhealthy messages, Utah SNAP-Ed developed the Captain Create YouTube channel. This collection of short videos, hosted by their very own child-friendly superhero, has proven a fun and successful addition to the existing Captain Create MyPlate youth nutrition curriculum.

Today, the Captain Create YouTube channel includes more than 30 nutrition and physical activity education videos. These short videos were designed to be incorporated into lesson plans or to be enjoyed by children at home. Video content incorporates USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate recommendations. Captain Create shares health information in a colorful and engaging way to excite children about nutrition and physical activity. The channel uses humor and employs social media trends to entertain and teach children.

Description

The Captain Create YouTube channel is for children ages 3-12 years old, along with their caregivers. Study findings suggest that YouTube videos are an effective method to provide education to children between 3 and 8 years of age (Hassinger-Das et al., 2020). Research has also found that children prefer YouTube to television and other media methods (Hassinger-Das et al., 2020). Captain Create videos are high energy, short, and playful; each lesson is less than 5 minutes long. Considering the age and literacy level of this audience, emphasis is placed on visuals, music, and audience engagement. Children are encouraged to follow along, performing push-ups, “superman stretches,” or other physical challenges. There are a variety of interactive games and guessing activities. Other lessons show children how to make healthy, age-appropriate snacks.

Captain Create videos were envisioned, developed, and produced by the Utah SNAP-Ed staff. Nutrition education and film scripts were based on the Captain Create MyPlate youth curriculum, which was written by Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences faculty. This curriculum, recipes, and activities are drawn exclusively from USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. Each video is professionally captioned to reflect Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design. 

The individual starring as the mascot will change from time to time. Each iteration provides  an opportunity to represent a different population, gender, and culture in Utah. 

Results

Captain Create videos are used to teach in elementary schools and other community SNAP-Ed classes throughout Utah. Links to videos are also sent home in electronic newsletters following after-school programs and elementary classes. YouTube analytics show Captain Create has more than 11,500 views and over 150,000 impressions. The Grains Food Group video has been viewed more than 2,000 times and the Fruit Food Group has over 1,000 views. The channel currently has more than 200 subscribers. The audience age is predominantly 25-34 years old, which is appropriately indicative of reaching the target audience: young children presumably in the care of mothers. Interestingly, 67% of the views occurred over computer (as opposed to mobile devices 25.5%) with a huge uptick in audience views occurring February 2020 through April 2021. These numbers coincide with young children schooling at home, on computers, during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Through qualitative and quantitative data collection, Utah State University Extension has found the videos made positive impacts on the target audience. The following comments are from SNAP-Ed ambassadors who use the channel as part of their youth education. 

“After watching the Captain Create video, I challenged the class to try to drink less soda this week and to try infused waters instead. The next week when I followed up with them, at least half of them said they tried infused waters and really liked them! The kids even were telling me all about the different combinations that they tried.”

“Each of the kids were able to recite MyPlate food groups or share a funny moment that was on the Captain Create YouTube videos that they watched in-between classes. They especially liked the different challenges and quite often would challenge their parents to a fun, physically strenuous activity like planking.”

“Captain Create videos are such a fun way to drive home the concepts that are being taught and the students and teachers love it!”


Participant Responses

Parents have shared how the videos impacted their children and inspired them to make healthy choices. 

“Oh yeah! We watch the videos when you post them. In fact, since the last video about Supermans [stretches] my son has been doing them everywhere around the house. He even started doing them on the arm of the couch to pretend like he's flying. We had to have a conversation about that, but he's been doing them on his own and just for fun.”

“As soon as I pulled the videos up on my phone, the children rushed over to see what was playing. Everyone was quiet, and about 30 seconds into the pushup tips video, two of the boys aged 7 and 5 immediately jumped to the floor and started doing push-ups! The adults hadn't prompted them, and the video doesn't explicitly invite the children to join in. The boys just started exercising on their own!”


Future of Captain Create YouTube Channel

Create Better Health Kids is committed to a dynamic future, aligning with evolving social media trends to ensure sustained success. The channel plans to diversify content by incorporating engaging formats that resonate with the younger audience, staying attuned to emerging trends and best practices. The is to continue developing videos tailored for direct educational use and integrating them into program curricula to enhance learning experiences. This multifaceted approach aims not only to expand the YouTube Kids account reach but also to contribute meaningfully to children's education and well-being, fostering a holistic growth for the channel.

Captain Create You Tube Channel

Captain CREATE with a cartoon girl wearing a cape

Grains Food Group: Grains Quiz
The Calf Muscles
Peas Please
Captain Create Returns


References
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011, September 16). School health guidelines to promote healthy eating and physical activity. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6005a1.htm

Hassinger-Das, B., Dore, R. A., Aloisi, K., Hossain, M., Pearce, M., & Paterra, M. (2020). Children’s reality status judgements of digital media: Implications for a COVID-19 world and beyond. Frontiers in Psychology, 11:570068. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.570068

Contact:    Heidi LeBlanc                    Lea Palmer

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