The Ideas Moving Parents and Adolescents to Change Together study—better known as IMPACT—is a three-year intervention program working with Cleveland families to improve their health with a focus on nutrition, physical activity, stress and sleep. Approximately half of the youth are also enrolled in a school that participates in the We Run This City Youth Marathon Program (WRTC), a study-enriched YMCA-sponsored school fitness program that encourages physical activity in urban youth, with IMPACT navigators supporting students, coaches, and the teams.
Spring 2016 marks a major milestone for the IMPACT study: This will be the final race season for IMPACT participants. There are currently 22 WRTC schools with at least one IMPACT participant in the school, with a potential 49 participants eligible to recruit. Some schools have already started training, while the rest will begin in February. IMPACT co-sponsored an in-service for We Run This City coaches on December 4.
Below, each of our IMPACT Navigators shares a few thoughts on this final coaches’ meeting and the start of the final intervention.
On December 4, we had our last WRTC coaches’ meeting at the YMCA for the final year of the IMPACT study. This being my first coaches’ meeting, I was not sure of everything that would be in store for the day, but it was a great time to reconnect with our coaches and get inspired and pumped up for this final WRTC IMPACT marathon season. One of the highlights of the day was hearing from our keynote speaker, Liz Ferro, the founder and CEO of Girls with Sole, a nonprofit organization inspiring at-risk girls to get involved in fitness and wellness programs in order to empower themselves. Liz spoke on her experience as a foster child and how she empowered herself through sports, specifically running, to take control of her life. Her words were inspiring and her goal of reaching and empowering young girls in Cleveland to find their own strength and worth was very admirable. I think everyone in the room was touched by her story and heart-felt sharing of her experiences. It was a reminder of what programs like WRTC and Girls with Sole can do for the kids involved in them. I think we are ready for one last impactful season with WRTC and IMPACT!
The final We Run This City coaches’ in-service took place in December, and it was a bittersweet event for us here at IMPACT. On one hand, it was wonderful to get together with all of the coaches and YMCA staff that we will be working with this year. On the other hand, the event was a poignant reminder this project has an expiration date. I have enjoyed my time in this program so much, and this in-service was no different. Throughout the course of the day we heard presentations and information about We Run This City, listened to the inspirational Liz Ferro from Girls With Sole, which provides wellness programs for girls; gave a presentation about the IMPACT study; played IMPACT Jeopardy! (I played the role of Alex Trebec); and participated in some sweaty, cutthroat games of bubble soccer. When the day came to a close and all the floor-burns were treated and bandaged, I think that we had a ton of fun, learned some new things, and hopefully spread the message of both the IMPACT study and the PRCHN.
The final coaches’ in-service was actually my first attended in-service (I began with IMPACT in February 2015). The day was an amazing experience filled with health education, physical activity, and fun times with coaches. Two activities from the in-service stand out most to me, the first being the speech given by speaker Liz Ferro. Liz gave a touching story of her life growing up in extremely difficult family circumstances. Through her difficulties, Liz founded Girls With Sole, a free fitness and wellness program that works to empower the minds, bodies and souls of girls who are at-risk or have experienced abuse of any kind. Liz’s personal story is remarkably touching and her work to inspire other young women is marvelously courageous and extraordinary. The second activity from the in-service that left lasting memories was Bubble Soccer. Bubble soccer is a silly way to play soccer with each player being inside a giant bubble. The bubble allows for individuals to bump their opponent causing lots of safe falls and tons of laughter.
The IMPACT Navigators try their hand at Bubble Soccer.
The PRCHN’s IMPACT Navigators are spending much of the summer conducting neighborhood assessments for students enrolled in the IMPACT study, looking at a range of factors that might make a neighborhood conducive—or not conducive—to a healthy lifestyle. Called Neighborhood Attribute Inventories (NAI), these assessments are conducted when a participant enters and leaves the study and anytime a participant moves during the course of the three-year intervention.
IMPACT is a multi-year intervention working to help Cleveland families improve their health with a focus on nutrition, physical activity, stress and sleep. Participants are randomized into one of three family interventions and may also have the opportunity to participate in the school intervention, which is available for participants attending schools that participate in the We Run This City Youth Marathon Program. Navigators are currently conducting NAIs for Cohort One (approximately half) of the 360 students enrolled in the IMPACT study, who will be finishing the program in the next six months and will complete the NAIs for Cohort 2 next summer.
Navigators are not given the child’s name or the house address, only the block segment. Navigators assess the one-block segment (both sides of the street) looking at the number and type of residential units; whether any units are for sale or rent or are empty; if there are security signs or bars on windows; whether houses are in good repair; if front yards are large enough for a child to play in; if there is litter or graffiti; the condition of the street and sidewalk (if present); if there are streetlights; and whether the segment is on a main road or side street. In addition, they note the number of people on the street and activities engaged in by the people they see (e.g., doing yardwork, walking a dog, etc.).
A large part of the NAI includes this human element—are there people outside and are they interacting with each other or the Navigators walking down the street. Navigator Rachel Gardenhire has been impressed by the sense of community she’s found in many neighborhoods: “One great thing to have seen while doing our NAI’s has been the people that are genuinely invested in their communities. Just recently, we met a man who owns several community gardens on Cleveland’s east side and heads up the Black Votes Matter campaign here in Cleveland. He was very interested in learning more about the PRCHN and what we are doing to help the community as a whole, but specifically, he was thrilled about what we are doing to help his community and what we are doing to help the next generation. On a separate occasion, we were invited to an African center and community garden that was right next to the segment we were assessing. This center and garden receives help from Cleveland State University students, along with community members. On both these occasions, I enjoyed seeing the excitement these community members had when talking about what they are doing to make their communities a more engaged, welcoming, and connected neighborhood.”
Sarah Jones, IMPACT Core Manager, notes that the NAIs serve two main purposes. First, researchers have a better understanding of the child’s and the family’s surroundings. IMPACT Navigator Chantè Cavin says, “When speaking with my IMPACT participants, I would always encourage them to run at home in efforts of increasing their mileage towards race day. While conducting Neighborhood Assessments, I have realized that some of the conditions in which the participants reside makes it somewhat challenging to run. Some of the neighborhoods have very uneven sidewalks, major overgrowth of weeds and shrubbery intervening with sidewalks, boarded up and abandoned homes, and other unsafe conditions that would make running difficult. This is something to take into consideration when suggesting that the kids run at home.” Gardenhire had a similar experience. “One thing I have learned from doing our NAI’s that I had never considered before is the how much our living conditions and simply the architecture of our houses determines the degree to which we engage socially and recreationally outside of our homes,” she says. “We have seen such diverse neighborhoods and have seen situations where it is obvious that outside engagements are seriously hindered simply because of the set-up of the houses in the neighborhood. Prior to doing these assessments, I had never looked at a neighborhood in this fashion.”
Because the NAIs are conducted multiple times, the second purpose is to allow researchers to observe changes in the neighborhood over time. If a student moves, a new assessment can show whether a family has moved to an area more or less conducive to a healthy lifestyle. In doing the NAIs, Cavin notes: “Many of the segments have been absolutely beautiful. The homes are well kept, grounds tended to with beautiful decorations that allow the house to feel like a home. So this has made me realize that I can’t always judge an environment based on the stereotypes of that particular neighborhood. The segment could actually be stunning and you really wouldn’t know until you actually visit the area.”
(from left: IMPACT Core Manager Sarah Drewes Jones, Navigators Sophia Kemble and Kevin Heine, IMPACT School Intervention Coordinator Ali Brawner, Navigators Chante Cavin, Aaron Sepulveda, and Rachel Gardenhire)
What have our five IMPACT Navigators accomplished this season?
Number of We Run This City teams with IMPACT participants: 28
Number of miles Navigators have run: 363
Number of We Run This City trainings attended by Navigators: 240
Number of kids interacted with: 588
Number of Navigator hours spent on school intervention: 900
Number of miles put on Navigator cars: 1,640
| At left, Navigators Chante Cavin and Rachel Gardenhire run with an IMPACT student. Below, students train on spinning bikes during conditioning clinics at the Downtown YMCA.
|Below, Navigator Rachel Gardenhire instructs students during a conditioning clinic. At right, an IMPACT participant happily trains on the bike during a conditioning clinic.