EL PASO, Texas - The Ysleta Independent School District is moving forward with a program aimed at reducing childhood obesity after it was tested in 14 elementary schools.
The CATCH program, funded by a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, promotes physical activity and healthy eating.
Since the implementation of Phase 1 last August, results show that the program is working.
YISD now plans to move to Phase 2, in which the program will be extended to 37 schools, reaching 18,500 students.
Before CATCH, students in observed physical education classes spent 43 percent of class time engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity.
Now, students spend 66 percent of class time running, jumping and doing pushups. YISD said it's a "statistically significant increase" compared to 2015.
Ascarate Elementary School is one of 14 schools where the program was tested and parents are taking note of how it has helped their children.
"Parents come up to us saying how great their kids have been feeling," PE coach Lonny Nava said.
He said students are learning to stay active in and out of school, make healthier food choices and include their parents.
"We have Fast Track Friday when our parents and the community come in, they walk with their students," assistant principal Michelle Casillas said.
Casillas said parents have responded positively to the CATCH program.
It has also been a learning experience for school staff and teachers who have had to take part in training courses.
In a survey, all 14 schools reported using more signs, posters and announcements to promote CATCH and other health-related messages.
All the schools reported that they are using CATCH resources most or all the time.
More than 10,000 educational sites worldwide use CATCH programs, which include physical activity and nutrition content spanning early childhood, elementary school, middle school and afterschool programs.