Capital Health Plan Encourages Fitness with a Purpose Through its CHAMPIONS Program

Childhood obesity affects 1 in 5 American children, ultimately resulting in long-term health issues like diabetes, heart disease, weakened joints, and low self-esteem. Capital Health Plan (CHP) has been standing up to create a healthier community by encouraging children in the Big Bend to tackle fitness with a purpose through CHAMPIONS, a health and wellness program for K-8 public school students.

Dr. Amy Neal

CHAMPIONS is offered at more than 50 schools in Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson, Wakulla, Calhoun, and Liberty counties, reaching over 100,000 kids since its inception in 2003. The program supplements the regular school-based P.E. curriculum with lessons that employ body weight exercises, tactical-themed gameplay, positive character development, and nutrition education. 

Childhood obesity results from many factors beyond behavior, genetics, and metabolism. Everything from school environments to access to places for physical activity and access to healthy, affordable foods can contribute to children's health. Improving diet and exercise habits is one of the best ways for children to achieve a healthy weight.

Kids spend most of their day at school – seven hours, on average – so it’s crucial that they have a healthy, supportive environment to promote empowering behavior. Schools play a large role in helping students get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day, which will improve their health, grades, and ability to stay on task. 

In fact, there is a connection between childhood obesity and children with low educational engagement, behavioral problems, and school absences. Exercise works as fuel for the brain, boosting performance and keeping the body and mind fit. CHAMPIONS participants have been shown to have increased their aerobic capacity, reduced absenteeism, spend more time engaging in physical activity, and maintain a more normalized body mass index (BMI). 

Empowered by the CHP’s CHAMPIONS program, students can achieve confidence in their physical abilities and gain a positive relationship with exercise – all of which can lead directly to a happier and healthier adults.