Introduction Nationally, it is estimated that 15% of children are at risk of becoming overweight and an additional 15% are overweight. Lack of physical activity in addition to high calorie, poor nutrient diets contribute to the growing epidemic. Childhood obesity was identified as a public health concern in Kodiak, AK. Specifically, lack of physical activity among children in Kodiak was the focused concern. Kodiak is located in the southwestern portion of Alaska. This island community houses the largest Coast Guard Base in the country. In addition, Kodiak is an active fishing town. The combination of these two predominant factors results in a transient community. This coastal community has the 6th highest precipitation rate in the country. Consequently, families have difficult times keeping children active all year, especially families moving from warmer, dryer climates.
Project Goals 1) Address lack of physical activity as a contributing factor in children's increasing weight. 2) Collaborate with multiple community organizations for lasting impact within the community. 3) Organize a park day in order to create an opportunity to speak with parents about physical activity.
Methods Assessment: Discussions with family physicians, parents, WIC counselors, pediatric nutritionists, Kodiak Parks and Recreation Director, and pediatric physical therapists, observations of well child checks in a clinic setting, and community observation supported a need in the community to keep children active all year. Project: Creation of an informational pamphlet promoting ideas on how to keep children active. These ideas are specific to Kodiak, and the information came from interviews with parents, interview with pediatric physical therapist, and internet searches for children's activities. Implementation: The pamphlet is being distributed at WIC counseling sessions, well-child checks at Kodiak Island Medical Associates, and Kodiak Parks and Recreation events. An organized park day encouraged parents to bring their kids out to play. This event provided an opportunity to speak to parents about keeping their kids active and distribute the activities pamphlet.
Conclusion The project provided a forum for three major community organizations, WIC, Kodiak Island Medical Associates, and Kodiak Parks and Recreation, to work together on increasing children's physical activity. The need to keep children physically active is an important issue that is now being seriously addressed in Kodiak. This awareness has lead to subsequent community initiatives to open an indoor playground or potentially a children's museum.