CATCH Family Fun Nights

September 28, 2015


School is back in session, and you might be looking for the best way to engage parents and community in CATCH’s message. CATCH Family Fun nights are a part of our curriculum, and schools are constantly finding new, fun, innovative ways to get kids, families, and local partners excited to be a part of them. This month we spoke with Ray Langlois (Leander ISD) and Annice Garza (Los Fresnos CISD) about their experiences, to get some tips on how to get the best out of a Family Fun Night.

Ray, who is the Assistant Director of Health and PE in Leander, has been working with CATCH and helping to plan family fun nights for 8 years.

24 elementary schools in Leander ISD participate in Family Fun nights. These events work to include both a physical activity and a nutrition component. The whole community gets involved–high school students volunteer to help the children check off the different activities on an activity sheet, community partners get engaged to educate about nutritious options in local restaurants. They’ve had events where parents speak on the importance of physical activities in their schools, and a number of family fun runs designed to get whole families moving together.

One way in which the folks in Leander increase attendance at family fun night is to have dinner donated by local vendors. While they don’t ask for expensive donations, these nutritious meals are an easy way to increase attendance while still being an educational opportunity.

Often, children will perform the fun activities they learned during CATCH PE classes for their parents. “My favorite thing is watching the kiddos get out there and really show to the parents the skills they learned and how well they can perform them,” Ray says. “It brightens their day.”

Annice Garza is Curriculum Coordinator from Los Fresnos CISD, where CATCH was just implemented last year with a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. Annice also loves getting to see children in her district impress parents with their knowledge and skills at Family Fun Nights. In fact, in order to increase attendance at some of their events, they’ve had the students perform, so that parents will be more excited to attend the event.

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As a curriculum coordinator for her district, she has some hands on experience with the family fun nights, but Annice says that health champions in Los Fresnos really tackle the task head on. “I have phenomenal CATCH Champions,” she says. “They met with their teams, solicited their community for donations, and really just ran with it.”

In some of Los Fresnos’s rural communities, it can be hard to get parents to attend school events. “At one of our schools, the families barely have paved roads. The parents had no concept of what a city block was,” she said. “But for our CATCH Family Fun night, we had more parents turn out than we’ve ever had.” Why does Annice think that these CATCH event draw parents’ attention? “Parents love the language that their kids are speaking.” In deep south Texas, like in many areas around the country, parents can fall behind the times. “We’re only just starting to get on trends like walking and biking more. Parents are so excited.”

Claws and Paws CATCH Bike Ride

Click through the above slideshow to see all of the photos from the family bike ride one middle school planned for their families. The community in Los Fresnos has truly rallied behind CATCH. “Our police department helped create the route for this event,” Annice says. “Local vendors helped create goodie bags for the families.”

In Los Fresnos, the popular Mexican restaurant is not necessarily what one would describe as “healthy.” However, their management was excited to help spread the health message of CATCH. They provided salad and sandwich samples at the family fun nights to remind families that they didn’t only serve WHOA foods!

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Coordinated health programs like CATCH are only as effective as the community coordination behind them. These communities are doing a great job of working together to create a culture of health. Send us your stories and pictures of how your community is doing the same!