A new free after-school program will fill a void for parents, and get elementary school kids moving in the process. The CATCH Kids Club, a program designed to promote healthy physical activity and eating behavior in children, will be held in hour-long after-school sessions at Silverthorne, Dillon Valley and Summit Cove Elementaries five days a week beginning this coming school year. CATCH, which stands for "a coordinated approach to child health," is an evidence-based curriculum in place across America and Canada. The program provides coordinators with equipment like hula hoops, basketballs, flags and cones, and "recipes" for daily activities and snacks. Robin Albert, director of Summit County Youth and Family Services, which is running the club at Silverthorne, said there's a recipe box coordinators pull cards from to plan the day's activities. There might be hula-hoop challenges or games involving beach balls, but everything is non-competitive, she said. Afterward, children learn about healthy eating and get a free, nutritious snack. There is existing after-school program transportation at Silverthorne for children, and a possibility for the same at DVE and Summit Cove if parents express a need, according to Family & Intercultural Resource Center executive director Tamara Drangstveit. CATCH is being funded through a grant FIRC obtained through the Colorado Health Foundation, and will be run in the schools by youth services and Keystone Science School. The grant goes through the next two school years. As far as expanding to other schools in the future, Breckenridge already has a strong program run by the Town of Breckenridge Recreation Department and they wouldn't want to duplicate offerings, but if Frisco Elementary expresses interest, it would certainly be something FIRC would want to figure out how to offer, Drangstveit said. "As we strive to get our youth active and eating well it is also great that we are able to provide additional enriching out-of-school activities for the students within the county," said Dave Miller, school programs director at Keystone Science School, which is running the programs at Dillon Valley and Summit Cove. "As a division of The Keystone Center, we have learned the importance of working to improve the health and nutrition of our community through a collaborative approach."
The new club comes after the decline, and eventual closure of the Summit School District day camps program, which some parents counted on as affordable and convenient after-school care. "I think it's a great program, and it's going to make a lot of difference to parents and kids in the three schools that it's in," said Lee Zimmerman, director of The Summit Foundation.Following numerous grant requests for day care-type activities, the foundation organized a group of community leaders last September to examine Summit's needs. The new club is one of the results of those discussions, according to Drangstveit. Another result is a community survey of parents asking about their needs and barriers in after-school programs, and an ongoing strategic plan for the county, including implementable solutions, Zimmerman said. That plan is due Oct. 31. But for now, the organizations running the program hope CATCH is a hit with children - and for parents who need that extra hour or so of care before they get out of work. "I think we're going to have a good response," Albert said.