Ontario CATCH Kids Club Implementation Project

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Program Description

The CATCH program had been widely adopted across the US, however, until recently it had not been implemented in a Canadian context.The CKC program was developed from CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health), a school-based health promotion program with demonstrated efficacy in increasing self-reported physical activity and observed physical activity during school-time physical education classes (Luepker et al., 1996).While the after-school environment has been described as a “ready-made opportunity” for health and active living interventions (Kelder et al., 2005), to date the after-school initiatives that have been reported have been limited and implemented on a small scale (Pate & O’Neill, 2009). The Ontario implementation of CKC is the first large-scale attempt to promote health using the after-school environment as the vehicle. It is also an initiative that has been driven by community agencies instead of researchers.The CKC includes:

A five-module education component: three five-week units that highlight specific concepts behind making healthy food choices to help prevent chronic disease and increase moderate physical activity.
A physical activity component: an activity box containing hundreds of index cards providing clear instructions for active and inclusive games. In order to maximize the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity, the CKC is designed to minimize transition time and games are non-eliminating.
A snack component: lessons on selecting and preparing snack foods, including tasting the prepared snack.
The program coordinators provided the after-school staff from the BGC and the YMCA with a seven-hour training session that covered background information, physical activity demonstrations and practice, basic group management techniques and tips on using the CKC material. The training and start time of the program was staggered, in order to manage the workload of the program coordinators.


Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport (now Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care)

Strategies for sustainability

Implementation and adaptation of the CKC program in Ontario was facilitated by the availability of the easy to use manuals and activity kits developed by the CATCH program. The YMCA and the BGC each took a different approach to program implementation. The majority of YMCA sites already had a structured program that included physical activity and snack components, so the CKC model was integrated into this existing model. The BGC sites integrated the CKC as an option, where participants could register for CKC as one of three 13-week sessions during the year.

Impact of program

The program was developed and implemented by a group of US based research institutes1 and was one of the first best practices to be highlighted on the Canadian Best Practice Portal.Outcomes from a large field trial showed that the CATCH program successfully decreased self-reported fat consumption and fat served in school meals, increased self reported physical activity and observed physical activity during physical education3. Follow up studies showed that these effects were maintained over the long term4. The CKC’s physical activity components were selected based on demonstrated efficacy in the CATCH program.

Evaluation tools

Researchers from the Brock University, Centre for Healthy Development through Sport and Physical Activity conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the first year of program implementation1,2. This was the first evaluation of large-scale implementation of the CKC program.

Key elements towards success

The CATCH program aims to create healthy children and healthy environments by working with parents, teachers, child nutrition personnel, school staff and community partners. CATCH relies on a multi-strategic approach that includes both school-based and home-based components.

Challenges to meet them

The CATCH Kids Club program initiated in the southern US where outdoor activities are possible year-round. It became clear to the implementers in Ontario that unless there was access to a large indoor space or gymnasium that some of the CATCH Kids Club activities were not possible. This required the implementers to modify the components.

Length & stage of project

In 2008, the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club (BGC) introduced CATCH Kids Club (CKC) into 330 after-school program sites.