Office of Rural Health and Primary Care - aging services models

Successful Model for Rural and Underserved Communities

Steps to a Healthier Rochester

Target Population: Rochester

Description:The increasing rate of overweight and risk for overweight among toddlers and young children was a major concern in Rochester. Close to 30 percent of the 2- to 5-year-olds participating in Women, Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program in Minnesota were overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. The 2006 Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System also showed that nearly 25 percent of this age group in Olmsted County were overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

Background: From 2003-2009, the Center for Disease control awarded funds to 40 U.S. communities to reverse trends in health risk factors for obesity and chronic disease. Each community implemented chronic disease prevention and health promotion activities appropriate for the needs and context of its own community.

In August 2005, Rochester’s Steps Program implemented the Fit WIC program to help parents and their children ages 2-5 become more physically active.

  • Fit WIC kits offered tools and resources for play, recreation, physical activity and skill-building activities, along with a picture book for non-English-speaking clients.
  • Steps and Rochester YMCA launched a related program called Fit WIC the Y’s Way to give WIC parents free access to the YMCA’s programs. Free child care was offered for infants and toddlers. Older children could participate in YMCA children’s programs. Teens had access to their own Y Space.
  • Incentives were offered to encourage families to join and continue participating in Fit WIC the Y’s Way.

Outcomes: Participants’ activity levels were examined over a one-year period using pre/post surveys. These showed an almost 45-minute increase in the average minutes of physical activity per day per preschool child. Parents reported a 7 percent increase in moderate activity levels, in addition to an increase in the time spent playing with their children. Eighty-eight percent of participants reported using the Fit WIC kit more than two to three days per week, on average.

According to The Guide to Community Preventive Services, people will become more physically active if they are given health information along with access to new or improved places where they can be active. By establishing healthy eating and physical activity habits early in life, children are more likely to carry these habits into adulthood.  

Partners: The Rochester Area Family YMCA, Rochester’s Downtown Farmer’s Market, Olmsted County Public Health Services, Olmsted County WIC, Olmsted County Park and Recreation Department.

The work is continuing through the Olmsted County WIC program.

Contact: Laurie L. Kratky, RD
WIC Services Manager
Olmsted County WIC Program
2100 Campus Dr. SE
Rochester, MN 55904-4722

A printable version of this model (PDF: 39KB/2pgs)

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Updated Thursday, September 08, 2011 at 02:53PM