CATCH at work: Cortland Homer Afterschool Mentorship Program

January 19, 2015


At the State University of New York–Cortland, students studying physical education have made use of the CATCH program in order to benefit local youth, and to themselves better understand how to teach health and PE.

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Dr. Timothy Davis

In 2003, Dr. Timothy Davis successfully developed a mentorship program called CHAMP, Cortland Homer Afterschool Mentorship Program. Dr. Davis has been an adapted PE teacher for over 25 years and is currently an associate professor at SUNY Cortland, teaching adapted PE and motor development in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. The CHAMP program began as a two day per week practicum for students enrolled in Tim’s undergraduate motor development class.

The mission of CHAMP is “to provide a mentorship program designed to connect SUNY Cortland physical education majors with the Cortland/Homer area youth who would benefit from a NY-state approved after-school daycare program.” Some of the program goals are to:

  • Increase the physical activity levels of Cortland/Homer youth (K-6th grade)
  • Provide quality mentorship experiences for college students interested in working with youth
  • Decrease the overweight and obesity levels of Cortland/Homer area youth
  • Conduct and disseminate practical action-based research on best practices toward addressing the physical activity and nutritional needs of all area youth, including those with disabilities.

The program is based on a three-prong approach: (1) planned physical activity (using PE majors as mentors), (2) healthy snack education and choices (called Snack Attack), and (3) organizational and homework help.

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Alexis Abdo

Alexis Abdo, one of Tim’s former students, has been teaching PE since 2010, and currently teaches PE and Adapted PE at Wheeler Elementary, in the Onondaga Central School District. Alexis now serves as CHAMP program director.

According to Alexis, the addition of the CATCH after-school curriculum has been a real benefit to the program. “CATCH outlines a block plan that we can follow making sure that all children are experiencing developmentally appropriate activities that are fun and meaningful,” says Alexis.

“My staff and I love the CATCH program for many reasons,” says Alexis. “The kits are super convenient and easily portable – great for when you’re moving from classroom to gym, turf, or outside. This program makes for a double threat – physical activity AND nutrition – a win-win when combined. The kids love the activities because they aren’t your typical ‘gym’ games – CATCH thinks outside of the box and the children really appreciate that. At CHAMP, we have 60 minutes dedicated to physical activity, and because of CATCH, our CHAMP kids are moving that entire time! The activities are fun, engaging, and developmentally appropriate.”

“The CATCH curriculum also has a section in the back, which talks about how to implement activities for children with disabilities. Families of CHAMP students love the fact we are combining health/nutrition with physical activity, and that their children play a role in creating our healthy snacks”.

Dr. Davis explained how CATCH curriculum also benefits the PE students learning to teach. “By using the CATCH curriculum the college students have had the opportunity to sequence meaningful activities that are developmentally appropriate. In addition, the CATCH content is structured to address a wide range of ability levels allowing beginning teachers to scale up/down the activity to accommodate all ability levels”.

“In addition, the importance of addressing individual motor needs is possible when looking up the adaptations available for each activity. CATCH helps me teach the concept of differentiated instruction to beginning teachers who are already immersed in a clinically rich and dynamic environment”.