Meet more of our SWITCH team

March 7, 2018
Ann Torbert

The SWITCH team involves lots of people with an interest in health and wellness - each with their own passion.  Today we will get to know three more members.

Let's meet Dr. Senlin Chen, Dr. Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, and Dr. Greg Welk.  


 

Dr. Senlin Chen

Dr. Chen, Associate Professor

What is your role with SWITCH?

I am a faculty member of the Iowa SWITCH team. My main role in SWITCH is to develop and disseminate the SWITCH PE module. Myself and other key team members created the SWITCH PE lesson plans, SWITCH warm-up activities, and we’re currently developing a SWITCH PE Middle School toolkit. My other responsibilities are involved with SWITCH training, promotion, and evaluation.

How did you get interested in the area of health/school wellness?

School is a great place to influence and advance health and wellness among youth. I was originally interested in understanding students’ motivation in the PE setting and how motivation is related to achievement and healthy-living behaviors. Later, I realized environments such as school, home, and community play a large role in shaping individual behaviors. I have felt very privileged to be a member of the Iowa SWITCH team who reach and impact school wellness.

What tip would you give to parents to help integrate SWITCH practices at home?

I encourage parents to work closely with their child(ren) to track their daily Do, View, and Chew behaviors at home. Students accumulate points and earn trinkets by tracking their behaviors. Parents can help them earn these tangible rewards for engaging in healthy behaviors. In addition, parents are influential proxies of children and can make a large impact on their healthy-living behaviors. Frequently asking their child(ren) of their SWITCH progress, cooking healthy meals, performing some physical activities as a family, and setting up rules for TV viewing would reinforce important SWITCH messages.

How do you integrate SWITCH practices in your personal life?

I make sure everybody in my family (including myself, my wife, two young children, and a 7-year-old cat) exceed the minimum Do, View, and Chew goals every day. I even let my cat (Calcium) go out and roam a few hours a day so he gets enough physical activity. My cat is also offered with limited portion of food to stay in shape. My cat does not watch TV but he sleeps a lot.

Favorite website/publication to share with families?

I like reading Dr. Michael J. Joyner’s blog called “Human Limits”. http://www.drmichaeljoyner.com/about/

 


 

Dr. Lanningham-Foster

 

Dr. Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, Associate Professor

What is your role with SWITCH?

I always joke about how my first day at work at ISU was all about SWITCH!I had a meeting with the team at that time (which had current team members Greg Welk and Doug Gentile) and became involved with the program early on.SWITCH became an ISU program a few years later and we started working towards getting more momentum and funding for the program.Today I am one of the lead investigators and I help with many aspects of the program, including leading the nutrition component.

How did you get interested in the area of health/school wellness? 

My research has focused on childhood obesity mechanisms and interventions for several years, even before coming to ISU in 2008.  I believe strongly in the idea that we need to work with caregivers and children together in order to make an impact on health behaviors such as diet and physical activity.  Children spend large portions of their lives at school.  We need to take advantage of that time and make schools a place for learning and wellness.

What tip would you give to parents to help integrate SWITCH practices at home? 

All changes (big and small) count toward making lasting health behavior changes.  Adding a fruit or vegetable to a couple of family meals a week or switching sedentary family time into a walk after dinner are simple strategies that can add up for big impacts.  Also, kids are great at coming up with some strategies which can take pressure off of parents having to come up with all of the ideas.  Most of all, make sure to have some fun and that will help all family members want to keep the switches.

How do you integrate SWITCH practices in your personal life? 

My children are 11 and 12 years old now and I try to get them involved as much as possible with coming up with ideas around diet and physical activity (also taking pressure off of me to come up with everything!).  What is a new fruit or vegetable that they might want to try or even learn a new way to cook? Do we go for a walk or bike ride after dinner?   I grew up in a home where dinner time was family time and I have tried to keep this as a priority with my family.    Overall I try to be a good role model for my children and if they see that I am a happy, healthy parent, they will hopefully try to have some of the same behaviors. 

Favorite website/publication to share with families?

I like to use resources from the American Academy of Pediatrics which has a great parent-associated website:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/Pages/default.aspx

I also have worked with the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 program for several years and there are some great resources here, too:

https://mainehealth.org/lets-go

 


 

Dr. Welk

Dr. Greg Welk, Professor of Kinesiology

What is your role with SWITCH?
I serve as the Principal Investigator on the SWITCH project and help to coordinate and choreograph the different committees and teams that help to plan, implement and evaluate SWITCH.

How did you get interested in the area of health/school wellness?

My area of research is aimed at public health strategies that promote physical activity in different segments of the population. A major focus is on school and family programming since both are important for impacting youth. An advantage of SWITCH is that it capitalizes on the existing infrastructure in schools and helps them to plan and improve wellness programming.

What tip would you give to parents to help integrate SWITCH practices at home?

Schools want to involve parents and SWITCH provides ways to directly engage parents in the programming. The SWITCH software allows kids to track and record their Do, View and Chew behaviors but parents can also connect by helping kids make behavioral ‘switches’. These are simple changes such as cooking dinner together, going for a walk, trying a new fruit / vegetable. The efforts to connect parents and children can help promote healthy home environments.

How do you integrate SWITCH practices in your personal life?

I actively think about my lifestyles and try to find ways to make good choices on a daily basis. I made a commitment to bike to work EVERY DAY (even in the winter) and this helps me add activity into my day. I also invested in a standing desk and use it to avoid sitting too long.

 

Category: 
Tags: