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2003 Model Practice Application (Public)

Application Name: 2003 Model Practice Application (Public) : Tulsa Health Department : Get Tulsa Kids Trekkin'
Applicant Name: Dr. Bruce D. Dart, PhD
Practice Title
Get Tulsa Kids Trekkin'
Submitting LHD/Agency/Organization
Tulsa City-County Health Department


The 2003 Get Tulsa Kids Trekkin' was targeted at 1,642 youth ages 7-11 in five Tulsa elementary schools. Nine hundred students completed the program, which is designed to encourage physical activity and create nutrition and health awareness. The project also provides intervention strategies that include mentors, health fairs, and other activities to help bring mandatory physical education back into Oklahoma schools. The object is for students to "walk" the equivalent of a historic route each school year, keeping a journal of their activities, which replace actual walking but are measured in miles. Teachers use a specially created curriculum incorporating math, geography, history, and more. Along the way, students are monitored and re-tested for fitness and health. Health and nutrition fairs and pep rallies are held. At the end of the journey, participants are rewarded with donated health-related gifts as well as a healthier lifestyle and better self-esteem.

Responsiveness and Innovation
The program responded to Tulsa's need to reduce obesity and encourage physical activity in its young people. Nationally, nearly 15 percent of children and adolescents are overweight. These numbers characterize a 100 percent increase in childhood obesity in a period between 1980 and 1994. In Oklahoma, the rate of childhood obesity is even higher. School officials discovered that Tulsa school children are some of the most obese and unfit in the nation. Using the President's Challenge Health Fitness Test, Tulsa Public Schools officials tested 304 children ages 9-15 on five different exercises: curl-ups, one-mile run, V-sit reaches, push-ups, and body mass index. Of the boys tested, 26 percent were overweight and 99 percent were deemed unfit because they were not able to perform minimum requirements in all five categories of the test. Thirty-four percent of the girls tested were overweight and 99 percent were unfit.

Tulsa’s children needed to increase physical activity and learn to make better food choices. This project is innovative in that it evolved from a project begun in 2000 in a collaborative effort to improve the health of the Tulsa community. The original project, Get Tulsa Trekkin', was a community project in conjunction with the Community Health Foundation (CHF), the Tulsa City-County Health Department, Hillcrest Healthcare Systems, and Subway Restaurants. It was designed to encourage the public to reduce heart disease and improve general health through exercise and nutrition.

Get Tulsa Kids Trekkin' is the result of the same community partnership but is targeted at youth and is designed to encourage physical activity and create nutrition awareness through activities and curriculum and through parental and school involvement. The program also provides intervention strategies that will help bring mandatory physical physical education back into public schools in Oklahoma.

Agency Community Roles
The project is operated by the Community Health Foundation, a 501©3 organization formed to provide public health projects that would complement health department programs and initiatives. The Tulsa Health Department donates staffing for the CHF, and several past and present Board of Health members sit on the CHF board. The program was designed by the coordinator, provided by the Tulsa Health Department, along with community stakeholders.

Get Tulsa Kids Trekkin' advisory board members include:

  • The coordinator of the CHF.

  • The administrative director of community services from Hillcrest Healthcare System.

  • Representatives from Tulsa's Subway restaurant chain.

  • Tulsa Health Department.

  • Tulsa Public Schools.

  • The YWCA.

  • The Governor's Council on Fitness and Sports.
This group meets monthly – or more often if necessary – to plan events and fundraisers and to discuss program goals and objectives. All members are active and their time—except for that of the CHF coordinator—is 100 percent voluntary. Meetings are held at the Health Department, which donates most of the program supplies. Other health department programs contribute volunteers, materials, and health fairs.

Costs and Expenditures
When the project began in 2001, all staffing, materials, and project incentives were donated. The Tulsa Health Department donated the staff person who operated the project, a partner hospital donated printing for the activity journals, and all incentives (tennis shoes, duffle bags, water bottles, bicycles, helmets, and one trip for four to Disneyland) were donated by the Tulsa community.

Proceeds from the Tulsa Bike Club's annual Tour de Tulsa bicycle event paid for the winner's trip to Disneyland. This was given to a child whose name was drawn from a hopper filled with the names of the students who had completed the activity journal and all related activities. The Aetna Foundation funded five $1000 vouchers for school project supplies to be given to the teacher at each school who had the best class participation.

Since the project could not depend on donations for subsequent years, the Community Health Foundation began applying for grants through other local and national foundations. In addition, the coordinator has been creating partnerships in Tulsa that will help to pay the costs each year. Also, the Tulsa Bike Club has agreed to donate proceeds from the annual Tour de Tulsa as long as the event takes place.

Outcome Process Evaluation
All outcomes for this project are recorded and measured on a regular basis. The first step in calculating outcomes is participant goal setting. Each participant sets a personal goal, and steps are taken to assure that every child has the opportunity to reach his or her goal. For example, one child might have a personal goal of losing 15 pounds during the project period. Another child might want to achieve the minimum requirement for curl-ups. These goals are concrete and measurable with outcomes being evidenced by periodic monitoring, sample testing, and post-testing in addition to journal entries and classroom activities.

The overall project goal is to improve the health and well being of Tulsa children through a lifestyle change that includes physical activity and nutrition awareness. This goal is measured by post-testing utilizing the FITNESSGRAM fitness testing software. The CHF coordinator, teachers, and advisory board volunteers measure and assess all data regarding the project. Available data includes pre- and post-test information.

Anecdotal evidence has shown that by personal goal setting, the children learn to take small steps toward a larger goal, they learn to be healthier and more confident, and they build self-esteem, as individual goals are realistic and attainable. As a second tier benefit, the children and their parents see the community taking a keen interest in their schools (the closing ceremonies are attended by local media and celebrity athletes) and in the project and are thus stimulated to be successful. School authorities believe that scholastic achievement will improve due to healthier children and better self-esteem. However, there is not enough data yet for measurement.

Lessons Learned
Challenges to the project have mostly involved funding issues. With school budgets being slashed, anticipated funding from school contracts with vendors such as Pepsi or Coke will not be forthcoming. Indeed, local funding is also precarious since Tulsa is home to several corporations facing dire financial straits: American Airlines, Williams Companies, and others. The CHF coordinator is working to solidify community partners by marketing the project with the help of CHF board members. The coordinator is also refining the program so that some costs can be reduced. For example, this year the Olympics-style closing ceremonies were broadcast via closed circuit television because the cost of busing the children to one central location was prohibitive to both the school system and the CHF. However, the television broadcast seemed to be successful, because each school held its own celebration, which allowed more teachers and parents to participate.

Key Elements Replication
Minimum key elements needed to replicate this project include the following: an active advisory board, community partners, project incentives, curriculum development, fitness testing capabilities, volunteers, dedicated school staff and teacher buy-in. Also, the minimum budget should include the following:
  • At least one .05 FTE staff member.

  • Supplies, including paper, pens, informational handouts, activity journals and teacher curriculum.

  • Phone costs and postage.

  • FITNESSGRAM or a similar software program.

  • Local mileage.

  • Incentives for participants if not donated.

  • Costs of holding closing ceremonies if not donated.