March 8, 2011 — Three University of Virginia researchers are using tennis and nutritional training to improve health and prevent obesity in residents of Southwood Mobile Home Park in Albemarle County, a largely Latino community.
Diane Whaley of the Curry School of Education, Mark DeBoer of the Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics and Amy Boitnott of the School of Nursing received funding from the Curry School’s Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, or Youth-Nex, to develop the training program.
On March. 13, “Salud” tennis and nutritional training program will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the The Covenant School’s upper school campus off of Fifth Street Extended. The parent intervention class will take place in one room, the QuickStart Tennis class in another; a play area for young children also will be available. A dinner will be prepared for all of those attending.
Salud is part of the Youth-Nex annual seed funding. In all, Whaley, DeBoer and Boitnott will provide six, 3½-hour monthly sessions. Children will receive Nerf tennis workouts and nutritional instruction, while parents participate in counseling sessions focused on teaching their children healthy choices. After each session, they all have dinner together.
During the meal, the researchers provide the recipes, discuss portions and share information about healthful eating.
Although the program will collect data on only the 8- to 11-year-old children in the family, Whaley said the whole family is welcome.
The work is much more than research, she said. “It’s a true community partnership and community engagement study.”
Her goal is for people in Southwood to benefit over the longer term. “Our hope is that they’ll go out and behaviors will stay with them.”
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Editors: If you are interested in covering the “Salud” program on March 13 and April 10, please contact Ellen Daniels, assistant director of center communications at Youth-Nex, at 434-243-2254.