Kids in Jefferson Parish Louisiana are riding their bikes and eating more veggies! Not only did this group of 4th and 5th grade students at Washington STEM Elementary School (WES) learn how to safely ride a bicycle, change and repair a tire tube and read a map, they had fun doing it! The students were proud of their accomplishments, with their teachers and coaches encouraging them, and they learned the importance of physical activity.
Two major health issues facing children today are childhood obesity and not getting enough exercise. Approximately 4.8 million -- more than 15% -- of US children ages 10 to 17 have obesity, according to a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report. The report showed obesity rates were higher among black and Hispanic youths and those belonging to households with incomes below the federal poverty line.
When the LSU AgCenter SNAP-Ed program began to add Healthy Communities and Policy, System & Environmental (PSE) changes to their work with youth in the schools that were Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligible, they began to seek out partners to assist in her impacts. Their goal in 2019 was to increase physical activity at WES, concentrating on an innovative approach to teach the students biking skills. SNAP-Ed partnered with Bike Easy, a nonprofit organization that promotes safe biking, and with 4-H, to include the “Smoothie Bike” in the class and get interested students connected with 4-H.
There were 20 fourth grade students and 26 fifth grade students impacted in November and December 2019. There several students had no prior experience riding a bicycle but soon learned to balance and ride without assistance. Students learned the ABC Quick Check and proper helmet fit. They used both skills before they got on the bicycles to practice drills. 97% mastered the ABC Quick Check and 100% of the students mastered the fitting of the helmets. The students ate more healthy snacks, too.
During the program, students attended 5 Bike Safety 101 classes and 6 nutrition classes using the Let’s Eat for the Health of It curriculum. Because of a grant secured by Bike Easy, these bike safety classes were free of charge to students. The final class, students went on a supervised ride in the neighborhood and made smoothies with the 4-H “Smoothie Bike.” Fresh and frozen fruit and yogurt were added to the blender, while the students took turns pedaling the bike that turned the ingredients into a delicious smoothie snack that was sampled.
The breakdown of the youth in this intervention:
- 63% Black/African American
- 28% Hispanic
- 2% Asian
- 7% White/Caucasian
Pre-post surveys were given for both interventions to the English and Spanish speaking SNAP students. Pre-Post survey for riding habits and the 3rd-8th Grade SNAP-Ed pre-post survey for the nutrition portion of the intervention.
- 97% mastered the ABC Quick Check
- 100% of the students mastered the fitting of the helmets
- Increased physical activities from 3-4 days to 5-6 days per week
- 98% of the students sampled the smoothie and gave a thumbs up on the taste of the blender bike smoothies.
Following the Bike Safety Course, the students attended a series of six nutrition lessons taught by the Nutrition Agent.
Results of the pre and posttest showed:
- Improvement in eating more vegetables
- Drinking less sugary beverages
- More willingness to try new foods.
SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework Indicators:
MT6: Physical Activity and Reduced Sedentary Behavior Supports
ST7: Organizational Partnerships
ST8: Multi-Sector Partnerships and Planning
LT9: Leveraged Resources
For more information contact:
Karen Marie Jones, MPH, RD, LDN
Area Nutrition Agent, LSU AgCenter Extension /Jefferson Parish
- Article by Dr. Johnny Morgan, Communications Specialist, LSU AgCenter, with pictures: Bike safety, nutrition makes big hit at Kenner school.
- Video created by Karen Marie Jones as an Impact Statement for the Healthy Communities Bike Safety Partnership: Let's Ride! is a partnership with the LSU AgCenter Extension Nutrition and 4-H Agent and Bike Easy.