By Robyn Keriazes
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November 13, 2012

STRATHAM — To each child, it was just a hop in a hula hoop, but to a new after-school health program, it was a landmark.

Last Wednesday was Coordinated Approach to Child Health Kids Club (CKC) Day, and in celebration, the program set a state record for the number of kids playing games at once.

CKC is a nationwide program that encourages children to exercise for at least 30 minutes of each after-school program, as well as eat healthy snacks such as fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. It is run by the Foundation for Healthy Communities and funded by a "Growing up Healthy" grant from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Download the 5-year CATCH Kids Club in New Hampshire Report

"CATCH is really great where it's a constant movement," said Billie Jo Kangethe, director of Stratham Memorial School's after-school program. "(Students) are excited the whole time; they're always playing."

According to Kangethe, CKC gives instructions for specially-designed games and provides some equipment to after-school programs. This makes Kangethe's and her staff's jobs easier, she said, because they now always have games readily available that have been proven to be fun and effective.

Games designed by CKC are unique because children are never eliminated; instead, if they get "out," they can do exercises to get back in the game. This maximizes play time, allows kids to be active longer and decreases competition.

"It's kind of nice to see them play all as a big group and not just individually or with their friends," Kangethe said.

Some games are variations on old favorites, such as tag or capture the flag, while others are new creations. At Stratham Memorial School, students played a musical-chairs-esque game in which they vied to be standing in a hula hoop each time their teacher turned around to face them.

"What I like most about it is all the exercise and fun you get," said Sara Kolli, a fourth-grader, as she took a break from playing on the playground before starting the games in the gymnasium.

Ian Price, a fifth-grader, said what he likes most about the program is that it has taught him many new games, especially variations on jump rope.

According to Kangethe, about 90 kids participate in Stratham Memorial School's after-school program. This was one of 33 sites participating in CKC Day.

CKC was implemented at its first two New Hampshire schools in 2004 and has since spread to 108 after-school sites across the state, mostly over the last two years. According to Kangethe, this is Stratham Memorial School's first year.

For more information about the NH CATCH Kids Club Program, visit the CATCH website, or Download the 5-year CATCH Kids Club in New Hampshire Report

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