About Power Up Programs

Background

Elon University is committed to helping students put knowledge gained in class into practice and encourages students to develop an ethic of work and service. To meet the university’s mission, students are nurtured to become "global citizens" concerned with the common good and respectful of all human differences.

The Power Up Programs offer students the opportunity to learn and grow outside the classroom through volunteering in Alamance Girls in Motion (AGIM), Girls to Empowered Teens (GET) or the CHAMPS program (Coaching Health and Mentoring Positive Students). Student volunteers are matched one on one with a participating child from the community for health education, physical activity and mentorship.

Beginning with a BeActive NC grant in 2006, AGIM (fall), GET (fall) and CHAMPS (spring) are offered each semester and to date more than 400 local children have participated in these programs, with a similar number of Elon students.

About

The mission of the Power Up Programs (PUPS) is to empower young people in Alamance County to make healthy choices through the use of mentors, physical activity and health education.

The Power Up Programs, which include CHAMPS, GET and AGIM, use a mentoring system to help children and teens learn about healthy behaviors, including the importance of being physically active and properly fueling the body. Participants in these free programs are matched one on one with an Elon student who volunteers to participate as a mentor. Students are trained in the program materials and screened prior to participation. Program sessions take place on Elon’s campus and are supervised by a faculty member with experience in offering programming for children and fostering health behavior change. Each session includes physical activity in the form of games and/or sports skills training; mentor facilitated small group discussions and health education; and one-on-one time with one’s mentor. The active format helps participants meet the physical activity guidelines of at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily and fosters meaningful growth in a number of areas including self-esteem, communication and positive health behaviors.

Why

According to the National Survey of Children’s Health (2008), 17.6 percent of children ages 10 to 17 in North Carolina are considered overweight and 15.2 percent of the same age group is classified as obese. In N.C., obesity rates are higher in boys, similar to what is seen in male adults. While a number of states have made headway in the battle with obesity, N.C. has not, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of children from 2008-2011. Overweight and obese children are much more likely than children at healthy weights to experience an impaired quality of life and to become overweight/obese adults. In Alamance County, 34 percent of adults are obese and 28 percent are inactive (State of the County Health Report, 2013).

Children who are overweight or at risk of being overweight tend to suffer from depression, anxiety and have lower levels of self-esteem (NC Healthy Weight Initiative). In addition, children of all sizes appear to be developing distortions in body image at younger ages, which may be contributing to unhealthy eating patterns. In Alamance County, very little programming exists to address these issues in children. In addition, no program exists in Alamance County that utilizes a mentoring system to address issues like self-esteem, physical activity and eating behaviors, which all have been found to impact weight. The mentoring relationship can be considered a form of guidance and support provided to the young child, with benefits for both the mentor and the mentee (Rogoff, 1990). Relationships with mentors, either assigned or naturally occurring, have been associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety, better communication skills and improved self-esteem in adolescents (Rhodes, Grossan, & Resch, 2000), suggesting mentors would be an effective way to address the issues discussed here.