An associate professor for the Nursing School, Linda Gibson-Young, along with a few other employees formed a new program in the Tallapoosa County region called TigerCHAT in order to help develop sustainable healthy behaviors in elementary-aged children.
According to Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Alabama holds the title of third most obese state in the nation. Simultaneously, diabetes rates in Alabama have raised to 14.6 percent.
Hypertension, a condition in which the force of blood against the artery wall is too high, rates have risen to a high of 40.4 percent. The Tallapoosa County poverty rate is 34 percent, which is almost double the national average.
Considering all of these statistics, Gibson-Young went to work. TigerCHAT was formed as a 10 session, comprehensive school-based health education program for fifth and sixth graders at Radney Elementary School in Alexander City, Alabama. Gibson-Young went into more detail about a few of the goals she set for the program.
“This school-based, health-education program aims to establish healthy eating, physical activity and oral care behaviors that are sustainable through integration with the school curriculum,” Gibson-Young said. “The curriculum is designed to enhance knowledge, attitude, perceptions and establish health behaviors.”
Another approach Gibson-Young took was how she chooses to teach the young children. Instead of lecturing them not to eat a certain food, instead she wants to focus on shifting their habits. As an example, Gibson-Young said after eating pizza, they’ll know to go exercise.
“This project has focused on empowering and engaging school-aged children in their own health behaviors and health outcomes specific to heart, lungs and mind,” Gibson-Young said.
TigerCHAT is far from being completed, and, in fact, this is the beginning. Gibson-Young is currently working on a report for Russell Medical and will be presenting to the Foundation Board in the upcoming months.