The YMCA of USA recently adopted Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards for their summerday- camps (SDCs). Standards call for staff to exhibit HEPA promoting behaviors while eliminating HEPA discouraging behaviors. No studies have evaluated training programs to influence policy specified staff behaviors and related changes in child activity in SDCs.
Four YMCA SDCs serving approximately 800 children/week participated in this no control group pre/post pilot study. Professional development training founded in the 5 Ms (Mission, Model, Manage, Monitor, Maximize) and LET US Play principles (lines; elimination; team size; uninvolved staff/kids; and space, equipment, and rules) was delivered to staff. Outcomes were staff promotion behaviors and child activity assessed via systematic observation instruments.
Twelve of 17 HEPA staff behaviors changed in the appropriate direction from baseline to postassessment with 5 behaviors reaching statistically significant changes. The percentage of girls and boys observed in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity increased from 15.3% to 18.3% (P > .05) and 17.9% to 21.2%, whereas sedentary behavior decreased from 66.8% to 59.8% and 62.3% to 53.6%, respectively.
Evidence suggests that the professional development training designed to assist SDCs to meet the HEPA Standards can lead to important changes in staff behaviors and children’s physical activity.
Weaver (WEAVERRG@mailbox.sc.edu) and Beets are with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Saunders is with the Dept of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Beighle is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.