Document Type

Service Learning/Capstone Experience

Graduation Date

5-2018

Degree Name

Master of Public Health

Department

Health Promotion

First Committee Member

Dr. Paul Estabrooks

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jennie Hill

Third Committee Member

Sarah Sjolie

Fourth Committee Member

Sheena Helgenberger

Abstract

Childhood obesity is one of the leading pediatric health problems and a major concern among Omaha metro parents (Professional Research Consultants, 2015). While there are many inter-related factors that contribute to the development of obesity, physical inactivity is a prominent risk factor. Targeting physical activity in health promotion is desirable for its feasibility and effectiveness in balancing energy consumption and expenditure (Hill, 2012). The Student Moves research project sought to inform school district and community strategies for promoting youth physical activity by assessing current physical education practices among a random sample of third- grade students in Omaha Public Schools. Variables of interest included: frequency, intensity and duration of physical activity obtained through physical education class. Trained and certified graduate research assistants conducted the on-site observations using the System for Observing Fitness Instruction Time, a validated observational instrument appropriate for this population and context. A secondary objective of the research project was to investigate the school wellness environment, assessed by the School Health Index. The student researcher administered the School Health Index (condensed online survey instrument available through Action for Healthy Kids). The version administered to schools was adapted from the CDC’s School Health Index and administered to building principals to assess the school wellness environment related to: nutrition, physical activity and physical education, as well as family and community engagement.

This mixed-methods cross-sectional study provided valuable information regarding elementary school-based physical education for OPS administration to assess variability in student physical activity levels, compliance with district physical education standards and wellness policy goals related to physical activity and education. Additionally, it may inform out of school programming providers, family, and community strategies for addressing the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans’ recommendation that all children receive 60 minutes of daily physical activity (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, 2008). The potential impact of the proposed research is significant. Greater understanding of current physical education practices in Omaha Public Schools facilitates data-informed decision-making at the school board, district, building, and household level.

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