The Children’s Physical Activity Research Group (CPARG), which is housed in the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health and led by professor of exercise science Dr. Russell Pate, has received a three-year, $225,000 grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. CPARG will use the funding to provide online training designed to increase physical activity and prevent childhood obesity among children at preschools and childcare centers in South Carolina. The project is part of CPARG’s Supporting Health and Activity in Preschool Environments (SHAPES/SC) program.
[Photo: Dr. Russell Pate]
Offered completely online and free, thanks to the grant from the Foundation, SHAPES/SC is designed to teach childcare providers to help children become more active. Teachers complete six, 30-minute modules over the eight-week course and receive one continuing education credit per module completed, for up to six total credits.
The modules train teachers of three-, four-, and five-year-old children how to integrate fun physical activity into the classroom through academic lessons and class activities. They also teach providers how to help children become more physically active during recess. Additional course materials include a SHAPES/SC guidebook, playbook, activity cards, video library, and discussion forums.
“We are thrilled to offer this state-of-the-art program to childcare providers across our state,” said Dr. Pate. “SHAPES/SC will help South Carolina’s kids get off to a healthy start.”
SHAPES/SC is the result of more than two decades of research conducted by Dr. Pate and his CPARG team and is offered in collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Social Services and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The initial work on SHAPES/SC was a research study funded by the National Institutes of Health. In that study, Pate and colleagues developed and tested effective methods for increasing physical activity in preschool age children (i.e., 3-5 years old) at organized care settings.
Dr. Pate received additional funding from The Duke Endowment to transform this approach into an online training program and test it. The new grant from the Foundation will enable CPARG to extend the reach of this program by offering the training to hundreds of preschools and childcare centers throughout the state at no cost.
“Less than half of America’s children are meeting the current federal guideline of at least three hours of physical activity per day,” said foundation executive director Mr. Harvey Galloway. “Children need this level of activity to support good health and normal development. This research based program fits our mission of serving as an agent of change to support healthier South Carolinians.”