CATCH eKids Club: Creating Healthier Kids With An Online Game Environment

Creating an online educational game environment to impact healthy eating and physical activity.

About You

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Location

Project Street Address

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Project Country

n/a

Your idea

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Year work began:

2002

Focus of activity

Service/process

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Project URL (include HTTP://)

Plot your innovation within the mosaic of solutions

Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Please select one

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Physical Health

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

Product Design Is Oriented Toward Consumption, Not Application or Learning. The CATCH eKids Club is an online environment that is novel because it uses online games to teach kids about health and nutrition. Although online games are popular for entertainment, they have not been designed and rigorously tested to improve health.
Dual Stigma about Games Limits Potential Customer Base and Distribution Our online game environment will buck the stereotype that games are unhealthy. Our online games will teach about nutrition and physical activity and how they contribute to a healthy lifestyle. They will model behavior for children and actively encourage them to participate in after school physical activity through online rewards.

Name Your Project

CATCH eKids Club: Creating Healthier Kids With An Online Game Environment

Describe Your Idea

Creating an online educational game environment to impact healthy eating and physical activity.

Innovation

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What is your signature innovation in one sentence?

Creating an online educational game environment to impact healthy eating and physical activity.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

This field has not been completed

What barriers exist that are creating the problem your innovation is hoping to address/change?

There are a variety of Public Health Barriers that are contributing to the need to create the CATCH eKids Club intervention. Primarily they are focused on the total number of school aged kids that are now considered overweight or obese, and the continued trend of these numbers to increase in the future. Obesity leads to a variety of health disorders such as a=cardiovascular disease Type II Diabetes and in general a lower quality of life. Two main barriers exist in this obesity crisis.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing.

Food Fury is the first game in a series of health education games that will form the core activities of the online learning environment for CATCH eKids Club. Food Fury was designed as a way to help kids identify foods that are more healthy, or less healthy. The game is a categorization task where kids are forced to put food in appropriate groups to get points and move up levels. There are short descriptions of each of the foods as to whether they are high or low in fat and sugar, to help children understand trends in recognizing healthy foods. Food Fury is currently being field-tested and preliminary results show a positive trend to wards being able to correctly categorize foods after playing the game for approximately 30 minutes. We believe that having exposure to games such as this over the course of an 8 month after school program will show marked improvements in understanding.

How do you plan to scale your innovation?

CATCH eKids Club will be rigorously tested for effectiveness and then iterated to add final improvements. This project will then follow the CATCH school-based program dissemination model which is a highly successful program that has been proven to lower kids BMI and improve knowledge of nutrition and exercise and is now being implemented in thousands of schools in Texas and across the United States.

Impact

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Provide one sentence describing your impact.

After participating in the CATCH eKids Club children will have a lower BMI and be more knowledgeable about nutrition and physical activity.

What impact has your innovation had to date? Exactly who are the beneficiaries of your innovation?

1) Food Fury Game prototype – The Food Fury Game was designed to teach children the basics about how to categorize foods as Go, Slow or Whoa, representing a classification of foods by their health characteristics. These categorizations are based on information from the USDA, CDC and are essential basics of the CATCH curriculum. The game requires children to match like food items to create chains to get points. To get to level three of the game requires practicing this repetitive matching task successfully for approximately 30 minutes. Of the 8 children in our convenience sample , 7 were female and 1 male, three in 3rd grade, three in 4th and three in 5th, and 5 were African American, 2 Caucasian and one Asian. Six of the 8 indicated they had a computer at home and on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest) they rated themselves on average a 3.6 for computer competency, 3.8 on frequency of computer use, and a 4.1 on internet frequency of use.

How many people have you served directly?

The Food Fury Game Prototype has been tested with over 30 kids from our YMCA parterres in Houston Texas and with children participating in the Get Outta My Face Program from Bend, Oregon
The CATCH Kids Club Exercise intervention – was tested on 16 after school program sites across Texas.

How many people have you served indirectly?

The Food Fury Game Prototype – The game prototype is located on the Internet for free and has been marketed in a variety of ways to improve hit rate.

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation

Funding for marketing and promotion of the program is a barrier because government funds almost always restrict funds from being used on marketing and advertising. Consequently many wonderful effective programs go completely ignored beyond the scope of grant awards.

What are the main barriers to creating your impact?

Funding for marketing and promotion of the program is a barrier because government funds almost always restrict funds from being used on marketing and advertising. Consequently many wonderful effective programs go completely ignored beyond the scope of grant awards.

This Entry is about (Issues)

Sustainability

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How is your initiative financed?

The online game Food Fury was funded by a grant by the AETNA Foundation to the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston, School of Health Information Science
http://www.shis.uth.tmc.edu/news-1/aetna-foundation-supports-201cgames-f... Catch Kids Club was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston School of Public Health Center for Health Promotion and Prevention. The overall CATCH eKids Club is unfunded but we are waiting scores from NIH on a proposal to fully fund this initiative.

Provide information on your finances and organization: annual budget, annual revenue, number of staff:

This field has not been completed

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

The need and the demand are high. Currently, there are 28 million children that have parents working outside of the home who do not have access to child care programs after school (Seppanen et al., 1993). While 74% of elementary and middle school parents say they are willing to pay for these programs, only 31% of elementary and 39% of middle school parents reported having a child that attends a school-based child care program (PRIDE, 1997).

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

Funding for marketing and promotion of the program is a barrier because government funds severely restrict funds from being used on marketing and advertising. Consequently many wonderful effective programs go completely ignored beyond the scope of government grant awards.

The Story

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What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

The development of the concept of the CATCH eKids CLub was a collaboration between the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston Schools of Health Information Science and Public Health along with our partner corporation Archimage. The pilot program CATCH Kids Club was successful in improving the physical activity of children in the after school setting however, the curriculum while well written and effective in a school setting was not well received by kids after school. Feedback indicated that kids did not want o study a curriculum after school, but wanted to play. It was a natural solution to look to an online environment that uses games to teach kids about nutrition and exercise. Electronic games are already an activity that kids enjoy engaging in after school. The School of Public Health and their center for Nutrition contributes the pilot after school program data, and nutrition and behavior change expertise. The School of health Information Sciences contributes electronic game design for learning and the evaluation of electronic games, and Archimage is the technical expertise to produce a high quality professional product.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material

Dr. Phelps is Assistant Professor of Health Informatics at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston in the School of Health Information Sciences. She is the Director of the Learning & Technology Program, which performs service, research and trains students in regards to the design, and application of technology in education. Dr. Phelps has been designing games and multimedia applications for educational objectives since 1998.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

This field has not been completed