Fitness and Nutrition Club (FAN Club) is embarking on its sixth year as a community partnership to meet the needs of children in grades 3 through 5 at nearby Avondale Elementary School by offering an after school program focused on fitness training and nutrition education. According to Toni Chops, MS, RN, CNE, faculty coordinator for the program, the FAN Club is a partnership between Mount Carmel College of Nursing, Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) and Columbus Public Schools.

Since its inception in 2008, enrollment, as well as family involvement, has increased each year. Jan Burkey, MCCN Director of Development, facilitates the grant process associated with the program. She explained that funding for this year is from both the Mount Carmel Foundation and Mount Carmel College of Nursing. “The success of this program has helped us secure funding over the years and we are very grateful to all our funders who have made this program possible: the Harry C. Moores Foundation, Medical Mutual, Cardinal Health and The Columbus Foundation,” she said.

April Knight, principal at Avondale Elementary, explained the benefits of the program. “Families do not always have access to healthy foods or have knowledge of ways to involve their children in fitness and nutrition. The FAN Club helps to fill a void in the community and provides families with ideas to interact together in healthy ways related to meals and exercise. The children as well as the families are learning that it is okay to be healthy.”

Chops explained, “We’ve developed strategies to encourage family participation in the program. Engaging in physical activities, supporting the children in learning about nutrition and attending fun, lively parties at the end of a unit of study have been added to the curriculum. The parties have been a big hit because they provide an opportunity for the entire family to be together and learn about fitness and nutrition.”

Topics such as hand washing, bicycle safety and community resources in Franklinton have been added. A dietitian also has been added to the program to provide ideas for child-friendly snacks and meals.

Three students from the College work as program assistants. This year Sophomore Jeni Joyce and Freshman Taylor Angel will serve as the program assistants and Sophomore Lindsey Rose will serve as an alternate. Joyce stated, “One day, I would like to be involved in pediatric nursing. Tutoring at Avondale opened my eyes to the needs of the children and who are part of FAN Club. I can help teach the children about fitness and nutrition early in life to establish a foundation for health. Being around the children helps brighten my day. I get so much out of helping them.”

Chops added, “This project is just one example of the College working in partnership with other organizations to create a community environment for children that supports healthy nutrition and fitness behaviors through the efficient and effective coordination of community resources.”

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