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Newark Preschools Play CATCH

May 3, 2015 | Community News, Newark

catch program This May, Newark is celebrating National Fitness Month in a big way with the introduction of CATCH in the city’s nine public preschools.

CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) is an evidence-based, coordinated school health program designed to promote physical activity, healthy food choices and the prevention of tobacco use in children. Newark’s nine preschools will join the 8,500 CATCH schools and after-school organizations across America that are teaching children that eating healthy and being physically active every day can be fun.

Dr. Marguerite Leuze, Health Services Director, Newark Public Schools has long been an advocate of CATCH. She brought the idea of piloting CATCH in four Newark preschools to New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Newark (NJPHK-N). She and Courtney Price, NJPHK-N Project Manager, took the concept to Samantha Lott-Velez, Interim Director, Office of Early Childhood, Newark Public Schools. Lott-Velez bought in immediately but envisioned all nine preschools benefiting from the program.

That vision became the reality when the Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance stepped up to provide the funding as part of Healthy U – a collaborative initiative to combat the obesity epidemic among New Jersey children. As all result, all nine preschools will introduce CATCH curriculum and activities in their classrooms. A kickoff is scheduled for May 12th at 10:00 am, located at the Samuel L. Berliner Elementary School in Newark.

“Kudos to Jonathan Pearson, Executive Director, Horizon Foundation; Sue Cornell, Healthy U Director, YMCA State Alliance; and Michael C. Bright, President and CEO of YMCA Newark and Vicinity. They pulled the support together to make this happen,” said Price. “As a result, Newark’s three- to five-year olds will develop healthier habits earlier in their lives. CATCH has proven that establishing healthy habits in childhood can promote behavior changes that can last a lifetime.”

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