In FY 2005 the Region III Office of the Administration for Children and Families initiated a pilot project, I Am Moving, I Am Learning (IM/IL), to prevent and reverse the negative consequences of obesity in Head Start children in 17 Head Start programs in Virginia and West Virginia. The goals of IM/IL are to: 1) increase the quantity of time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activities (MVPA) during the daily routine to meet national guidelines for physical activity; 2) improve the quality of structured movement activities intentionally facilitated by teachers and adults; and 3) improve healthy food choices for children every day.
IM/IL was created in response to regional and national trends towards childhood obesity under the leadership of Nancy Elmore, Head Start Program Manager, Region III, Amy Requa, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Region III TA Health specialist and Dr. Linda Carson, Director of the West Virginia Motor Development Center, West Virginia University. The project was designed to fit within the Head Start Performance Standards and the Head Start Child Outcomes Framework through enhancements, chosen by the individual Head Start program, to current teaching practices by providing more focused guidance on quality movement, gross and fine motor development and child nutrition. Additionally, IM/IL goes beyond the classroom teaching practices to enhance the approach family service workers take with Head Start families in the area of movement and nutrition as well as in the approach Head Start health staff takes in working with children and their families. IM/IL uses a train-the-trainer model with directors and their management teams attending a 2½ day training event with Region III staff. The individual Head Start Program decides how they will implement the goals of IM/IL with their classrooms, families, and communities. In FY 2006, 65 programs in Region III were asked to participate in the train-the-trainer meetings that were held in March and April.
OPRE has awarded a contract to Mathematica Policy Research Inc. to conduct an evaluation of the implementation of the IM/IL program. Mathematica will collect information on approaches being taken by individual programs and the implementation of these approaches, including challenges faced and facilitating factors; as well as the potential outcomes of participation in IM/IL for children, staff, families, and communities. An implementation evaluation will involve gaining information about the range of sites’ program context and service components including level of adoption of IM/IL enhancements, intensity of implementation, and sustainability of enhancements.