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Statewide Health Fitness Project — March 2004 CLOCC Seed Grant Recipient

M. Eliza(Beth) Verner, Ed. D.; Weimo Zhu, Ph.D.; Jennie A.Gilbert, Ph.D, FACSM

Background and purpose
The state of Illinois has no system to track and document health related fitness, including obesity, or physical activity level/behaviors among youth. The purpose of this project is to develop an on-line, school-based tracking and data management system to closely monitor these variables.

Project design and subject selection
A four-year project (i.e., pilot and three additional years) was designed to establish the foundation and build an infrastructure to meet the above stated need. The pilot program began summer 2004. A total of 78 volunteer 4th, 7th and 9th grade physical educators were trained in four one-day workshops that spanned the state: Carbondale Champaign, Chicago, and Naperville. The Chicago workshop (n =20) was funded by a CLOCC seed grant. Participants learned how to administer FITNESSGRAM, coach students in the use of ACTIVITYGRAM, and monitor students' physical activity using pedometers.

Methods for data collection
To Beta test FitTrac, the on-line tracking and data management system, summer workshop participants collected FITNESSGRAM, ACTIVITYGRAM, and pedometer data during fall semester and are currently:

  • Submitting one class of data via FitTrac, see http://www.edutrac.us
  • Documenting both positive and negative experiences associated with administering FITNESSGRAM/ACTIVITYGRAM, using pedometers and navigating FitTrac.

Data analysis and anticipated results
Based on user input, FitTrac will be refined for spring data submission – a minimum of 60 students per teacher. During summer 2005, these data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and inferential, multivariate and hierarchical linear models and statistical methods. The results will profile health related fitness, including body composition, and physical activity of youth participating in the study.

Significance of this work
An on-line, school-based, tracking and data management system will enable educators and state officials to assess and monitor obesity, health related fitness and physical activity among Illinois youth. The new information can be used to inform students, teachers, administrators and parents; impact curriculum; and evaluate the effectiveness of healthy lifestyle intervention programs. Compiling these data by legislative district will facilitate informed advocacy with state legislators and other policy makers.

Acknowledgments and contact info
Each of the following organizations awarded approximately $10,000 to sponsor the pilot year:

  • Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children
  • Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
  • Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Southern Illinois Healthcare

Several other organizations provided gifts-in-kind such as facility space (i.e., gymnasia and computer labs) and lunches:

  • American Heart Association
  • Chicago Public Schools
  • Human Kinetics
  • PE 4 Life

The three-year, $850,000 Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant application submitted March 2004 was not funded. However funding remains a possibility, as 2005 PEP grant awards will be given to 2004 applicants who had good scores but did not receive 2004 funding.

Statewide Health Fitness Project

M. Eliza(Beth) Verner, Ed. D.
President, Illinois Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance
Professor, Sport & Fitness Management
School of Kinesiology & Recreation
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-5120
(309)438-3526
bverner@ilstu.edu

Weimo Zhu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
227 Freer Hall, MC-052
Urbana, IL 61801
(217)333-7503
weimozhu@uiuc.edu

Jennie A. Gilbert, Ph.D, FACSM
Assistant Professor, Exercise Science
School of Kinesiology & Recreation
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-5120
(309)438-7082
jagilbe@ilstu.edu

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