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Teen Girls Less Active, But Triple Play Program Bucks Trend

Olympic Gymnast Shawn Johnson, Triple Play Ambassador for Action, Urges After-School Exercise to Set Behaviors for Adulthood

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 16, 2009) /PRNewswire/ — While research shows many American children become more sedentary in adolescence, a nationwide program – Triple Play – is reversing the trend by motivating them to be more physically active, according to a report released today.

The Triple Play program was launched in 2005 by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) in collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services with support from The Coca-Cola Company and Kraft Foods Inc.

Youth Development Strategies, Inc. (YDSI) conducted a study of 2,242 Boys & Girls Club members, ages 9-14, to assess the program's impact. Findings showed that girls taking part in Triple Play became significantly more active, increasing their daily physical activity by nearly 7 minutes while girls outside the program decreased by more than 8 minutes – the weekly difference growing to nearly two hours more activity for Triple Play girls. On average, Triple Play participants moved closer to the recommended daily amount of activity for children (60 minutes each day) while the control group moved farther away. The Triple Play group increased to 90 percent of the recommended amount while peers outside the program decreased to 78 percent.

"Even a few minutes of extra activity each day can add up over time to a healthier weight and establish a pattern of behavior that continues into adulthood," said Steven Blair, PED, FACSM, professor in the Departments of Exercise Science and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina.

Triple Play's success in keeping children active is significant at a time when research shows activity typically slows from age 9 until 15, with girls decelerating most at age 13 and boys at age 15 (JAMA 2008, Nader).

"We're grateful for partners like Coca-Cola who can help us develop programs that work and serve as models at a time when a third of American schoolchildren are overweight or obese, putting them at risk of health problems as they get older," said Judith J. Pickens, senior vice president, Program & Youth Development Services, BGCA.

Triple Play is designed to provide young people ages 6-18 with a basic knowledge of nutrition, exercise and teamwork so they can learn to make positive food choices, enjoy sustained physical activity and develop a sense of self-reliance.

"So many kids, especially girls, end up spending more time shopping or at the food court in the mall than working out in the gym, so it's encouraging to find programs like Triple Play that turn that around," said Olympian Shawn Johnson, 17, Triple Play's Ambassador for Action.

Success Stories from California to Ohio

Before enrolling in Triple Play in June, Deyatric "D" Brown, 13, of Canton, Mississippi, struggled when walking across a room due to his heavy weight, said his mother. Encouragement and inclusion by other children in Triple Play have drawn him into a walking competition that involves laps around a track. "Now he is more active, he's competing with other kids. I'm pleasantly surprised he can do it so well. The more weight he loses, the better he can move," said DeLisa Brown, who said her son has lost a significant amount of weight since joining the program nearly four months ago.

Triple Play changed the life of Boys & Girls Club member Nayila Deveaux, 10, of Burbank, California, who used to spend after-school hours "sitting around" but now does athletic drills, motivated by a chart updated weekly so she can track her progress and "get better." Said Nayila, "It makes me proud."

Before enrolling in Triple Play at her local Club, Cleveland, Ohio-native Jasmine Moore, age 8, "was too shy to go out and be involved in things she's doing now, like sports, dancing, bike riding and cheerleading," said her mother, Veronica Graves. "She's made such a big change."

Parents can access tips from Triple Play in the free guide – Triple Play Parents Game Plan – available in English and Spanish at http://www.bgca.org/programs/tripleplay.asp.

Survey Methodology

Of the 2,242 young people in the study, 1,476 were enrolled in Triple Play programs across the country and 766 were in Boys & Girls Clubs without Triple Play programs (control group). All of the participants completed written surveys administered by trained Boys & Girls Club staff in March 2006 (baseline), December 2006 (midpoint) and December 2007 (follow-up). Youth were surveyed at 20 Triple Play sites and 10 control sites across the United States (full list available upon request). Of the participants, 36.5 percent were black, 31 percent white, 11 percent Hispanic and 21 percent other racial groups.

Youth Development Strategies, Inc

YDSI is a national nonprofit research, evaluation and technical assistance organization that helps communities improve long-term outcomes for their youth. YDSI work with local organizations and institutions to design, implement and evaluate strategies based on the "youth development approach" to working with young people – building on their strengths, rather than focusing on their weaknesses. YDSI products include research publications, assessment instruments, conference presentations, workshops and seminars.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (www.bgca.org) has helped kids "Be Great," providing hope and opportunity for those who need it most. Today, more than 4,300 Clubs serve some 4.5 million young people ages 6-18 years old through Club membership and community outreach. Boys & Girls Clubs can be found throughout the country and on U.S. military bases worldwide. Key programs conducted by trained, professional staff emphasize leadership development; education and career exploration; community service; technology training; financial literacy; health and life skills; the arts; sports, fitness and recreation; and family outreach. In a recent Harris Survey of Club alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives.

The Coca-Cola Company

Triple Play is an example of The Coca-Cola Company's commitment to Live Positively, a philosophy that guides the company's service to its customers, consumers and communities. The products, programs and policies Coca-Cola supports make it easier for people to enjoy refreshing and hydrating products, to be physically active, to make informed choices and to strike a balance that contributes to active, healthy living. To learn more, visit www.livepositively.com.