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Worms, Bees, & Bicycles: A Lively Neighborhood Project to Lower Obesity in Humboldt Park and Logan Square Children

Faith in Place, a CLOCC partner since 2002, runs a youth program called “From the Ground Up/De La Tierra Para Arriba” for low-income children in Logan Square and Humboldt Park. Our after-school program and summer camp serve 35 below-poverty-level youth and their families. Focusing on urban agriculture, we teach dozens of children to grow organic food for their families, adopt healthy diets and active lifestyles, and gain entrepreneurial skills while marketing homegrown products. This project will study the effectiveness of our program in improving children’s health, behavior, knowledge, and attitudes toward nutrition, physical activity, and environmental stewardship.

Specifically, we will establish baseline measures in July 2005 of a treatment group and a control group of children; assess the treatment children at the end of the intensive 5-week summer camp intervention (August 2005); and complete post-testing of both groups at the end of the school year (May 2006). We will partner with two bilingual students from UIC’s Naomi Morris Collaborative for Assessment and Evaluation to collect the data. These students, with Faith in Place staff, will take basic health measurements of height, weight, waist size, blood pressure, and BMI (using the data entry program provided by CLOCC for BMI data). Naomi Morris staff and students will assist children in completing the Hearts n’ Parks child and parent survey and Pediatric Quality of Life to survey general well-being. UIC’s Institutional Review Board will review and approve the research protocol to support the protection of human subjects before data collection will begin.

We know that “From the Ground Up” has made a huge difference in neighborhood children’s lives – in their self-confidence, school performance, leadership abilities, and commitment to environmental stewardship. We believe it has also had a positive impact on their health, behavior, knowledge, and attitudes toward nutrition and physical activity. We hope this project will yield more concrete evidence of our effectiveness, as well as point toward possible improvements we can make. We also believe the results will help Faith in Place strengthen its advocacy for sustainable agriculture. According the Prevention Institute, “Widespread attention to obesity and poor eating habits creates a unique opportunity to link health concerns about food consumption and environmental concerns about food production” (Building Bridges: Linking Public Health and the Sustainable Agriculture Movement). This research study will better equip Faith in Place to take advantage of that opportunity.

For more information contact:

Liz Sunderland, Youth Programming Coordinator
Faith in Place
2649 N. Francisco
Chicago, IL 60647
(773) 235-4640
liz@faithinplace.org

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CLOCC: Taking on childhood obesity in Chicago