JCC Discover: CATCH Early Childhood program

Jared Fogle, SUBWAY® Restaurants spokesperson and founder of The Jared Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate childhood obesity, visited the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston in Newton, Massachusetts, on March 14, 2012 to introduce Discover: CATCH Early Childhood and announce a strategic partnership between The Jared Foundation and the Jewish Community Centers of North America (JCCA). [CATCH = Coordinated Approach To Child Health.]

Discover: CATCH Early Childhood, a new JCCA initiative being piloted at six Boston-area Jewish Community Center preschools, adapts the nationally recognized CATCH Afterschool Program for younger children (ages 3-5), and involves teachers, students, families and the community in health-promoting activities aimed at preventing obesity and building fitness, strength and self-esteem. The Discover: CATCH Early Childhood program integrates Jewish values into the program’s fitness and nutrition education activities. The program emphasizes movement and fun; group games, gym and outdoor time activities are designed to incorporate 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity into each school day.

JCCA Vice President of Early Childhood and Family Engagement Mark Horowitz said Boston was selected as a pilot site because “the Boston early learning philosophy already incorporated the concept of the whole child, and the team was prepared to commit both preschool and health and fitness staff resources to developing and maintaining a program.” Mark Sokoll, JCC President/CEO, says “Boston has more than 400 children enrolled in our preschools, and that’s significant impact.” The JCC is already expanding the concept into its programming for children and families with special events and recreation classes.

Nationally, the goal is to reach the 200 JCC preschools in North America with a realistic goal of half that by 2015, affecting 20,000 children and 6,000 teachers. JCC staff will train their own staff and other members of the community who may not have access to these life changing habits.

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