Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children's Health: October 2016

Posted October 27, 2016 by Josh Grant

Children Playing Soccer
The sports community is changing to better address children's health. 

Across the United States, organizations and government agencies are creating new approaches to improve children’s health. Because we support innovation for helping children lead healthier lives, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting initiatives we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Read on to learn how some groups are addressing critical health needs:

Shooting for Better Asthma Education
Basketball might be the right game for helping caregivers learn about asthmaExternal Link. Healthy Hoops, an initiative started by AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania, travels around the country, inviting families with children to free basketball camps that feature professional coaches. Children are screened for asthma before the games start; experts are there to educate parents on how to care for kids with the condition and given guidance on steps to take in the future when evidence of asthma is found. 

Besides giving children a chance to have fun and parents more information about asthma, Healthy Hoops also starts conversations about other health matters. The screenings allow experts to talk about general lung health, as well as heart health and the importance of exercise. Approximately 3,500 children have completed health screenings through Healthy Hoops around the nation, ensuring that those families are better prepared to address important needs in the future. 

Kicking Around Ideas for Childhood Obesity

Students and faculty from the University of Texas at Arlington's College of Nursing and Health Innovation are testing a new program to increase nutrition literacy among studentsExternal Link, starting with a pilot at the Young Men's Leadership Academy. The Academy primarily serves Latino students who are predominantly from lower socio-economic communities, an underserved population for healthcare issues such as obesity. Project leaders are conducting sessions to teach students how to interpret food labels and understand what makes food products healthy or unhealthy. 

The program focuses on soccer for its exercise component, because of its popularity at the Academy. Participating students wear accelerometers to measure their activity levels during the day and determine the impact of playing soccer on a regular basis. The plan is to study how students progress over time and bring the program to other schools, where more students can learn about eating right and exercising to achieve their best health. 

Breastfeeding on the Grid Iron

Auburn University’s School of Nursing has brought breastfeeding support to college footballExternal Link. Faculty and students from the school helped create Tiger Babies, a facility where moms can go to breastfeed during games at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. In a large tent, moms find private stalls with rockers, side tables and electrical outlets for breast pumps; the tents also have changing tables and spaces for moms to connect with each other. Nurses and nursing students are on hand to provide moms with breastfeeding supporting and information. 

The goal was to provide a clean, private environment in a stadium that welcomes over 87,000 fans during each football game, so moms who prefer a private space did not have to use the restroom to breastfeed during the games. Tiger Babies hopes to expand in the future, and it may see its footprint grow beyond Auburn: Other schools have contacted the professors, nurses and students to learn about Tiger Babies while exploring creating similar facilities at their stadiums.

What children’s health innovation stories have you read lately? Share them with us @NICHQ on Twitter!


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