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U.S. Health Secretary Visits Lynnwood School to Learn About Gear Up & Go!

Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, visited Beverly Elementary School to see the Gear Up & Go! program in action. NWCPHP worked with the Snohomish Health District, Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition, and Group Health Center for Community Health and Evaluation to evaluate the program.
U.S. Health Secretary Visits Lynnwood School to Learn About Gear Up & Go!

Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. DeSalvo, hula-hoops with Beverly Elementary School students.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, visited Beverly Elementary School to see the Gear Up & Go! program in action. NWCPHP partnered with the Snohomish Health District, Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition, and Group Health Center for Community Health and Evaluation to evaluate the program.

March 11, 2016

Last week the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Karen DeSalvo, met with local community leaders, teachers and fifth graders at Beverly Elementary School in Lynnwood to see the Gear Up & Go! youth activity program of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition in action.

The visit was one of several stops for Dr. DeSalvo around the Puget Sound region as part of a larger an effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to explore and expand successful, community-based models for youth fitness in accordance with its Healthier Lifestyle Choices and Healthy People 2020 plan to “increase the number of community-based organizations providing population-based primary prevention services in physical activity.”

Over lunch with Dr. DeSalvo and her team, members of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition discussed why the Coalition came together, what the group is doing to create a more economically prosperous region through better health and how that led to the creation of the Gear Up & Go! program, the first of three regional health initiatives currently operating in Snohomish County.

“We were so pleased to share our passion for creating healthier communities with someone who understands how truly impactful this work can be,” said Scott Forslund, Founding Director of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition. “Hopefully our successes will be taken back to Washington DC and serve as a model for public-private health partnerships across the country.”

Reducing Childhood Obesity Through Physical Activity

Increasing physical activity among U.S. children is one of the primary focuses of First Lady Michelle Obama’s national Let’s Move! Campaign to reduce childhood obesity. Beverly Elementary School was named a “Let’s Move Active School” National Award Winner in 2015 due in part to its active participation with Gear Up & Go!

GUGO DeSalvo VisitDuring her visit to Beverly, Dr. DeSalvo first met with a select group of students to hear firsthand about how the Gear Up & Go! program works, then observed the program in process during a physical education class in the school gym.

“These kids have younger siblings, second graders, who are clamoring for Sqord. We had one girl ask her parents for a pod for Christmas,” explained Thomas Davis, Physical Education/Activity & Fitness Specialist at Beverly Elementary School, who facilitated the group discussion. “This tool is a real motivator for kids.”

A Model for the Nation

Since 2013, Gear Up & Go! has encouraged fitness and increased physical activity in public school children across Snohomish County. The program pioneered an innovative approach to making exercise fun by teaming up with teachers, schools, local community centers and Sqord, the maker of wearable fitness tracking technology, to integrate physical movement into the school day; turn fitness into a fun, social event through friendly competition; and reverse the trend of childhood obesity. Gear Up & Go! is currently being evaluated by several U.S.cities, including Anchorage, Alaska, for implementation of the program in local school districts.

A recent evaluation of Gear Up & Go! funded by the department of Health and Human Services showed that children who actively participated in the program achieved double-digit increases in their physical activity levels by the end of the program, even though fifth grade is typically a period of declining activity in most youth nationally. Gear Up & Go! participants were also 46% more likely to continue to be physically active five months after they completed the program.

Learn more about the Gear Up & Go! program.

View photos from the visit in our Facebook album.

This news release was originally published on the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition website on March 4, 2016, and has been reprinted with permission.

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