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Spotlight on Saturday Sweat Sessions: Picking Up Weights and Putting Down Screens

Published: April 24, 2019

This spring, the Michael & Susan Dell Center Community Collaborative for Child Health provided $100-$500 grants to help support Central Texas schools, nonprofit organizations, and other community groups in promoting the importance of reducing non-productive screen time and fostering positive social connectedness. Fifteen incredible proposals received Unplug & Connect mini-grants to support their efforts. Today, we’d like to spotlight Central Texas Table of Grace’s project.

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Central Texas Table of Grace’s
mission is to create a loving, nurturing, home-like environment for displaced youth in the Central Texas area. They utilized their mini-grant to launch a new program called “Saturday Sweat Sessions” that teaches sustainable healthy life skills to youth so they can use their skills as a way to build resilience and take control of their physical and emotional health.

Lisa Robertson, Director of Marketing and Communications at Central Texas Table of Grace, has played an integral part in keeping the kids, whom she endearingly refers to as her “kiddos,” happy and healthy in their care. Robertson believes that demonstrating the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle to her kids will teach them “positive ways to cope with the obstacles they are overcoming.” The kids at Central Texas Table of Grace do not view their challenging home environment and experiences with trauma as a negative reflection of their self-worth, and with the support from Saturday Sweat Sessions, they have championed exercise and nutrition as a means to overcome adversity and grow from their setbacks.

“One of the biggest things our kids struggle with is learning healthy habits as they are constantly bouncing around from place to place,” says Robertson, and that is why consistency is vital. She stresses how “without consistency and proper role models, healthy habits are pretty hard to form.”

Saturday Sweat Sessions has transformed the culture of their mini-community. Robertson recalls a time where they were “glued to their computer screens and don’t want to do much else,” but now the kids are “laughing, joking, having fun outside and interacting with each other by doing team obstacle courses [and] encouraging each other when learning new exercises.” Robertson has noted that introduction of “active games has made a world of difference.” The sessions have not only impacted recreational time, but have also inspired the youth to transform their eating habits. The team at Central Texas Table of Grace have been successful in getting their kids to “actually enjoy kale salad - not an easy task!” 

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When asked for helpful strategies she would offer those who want to teach healthy habits to kids, she shared that providing a variety of options for exercise is the best way to get them engaged. “There are SO many different ways to be healthy and to be active, find out what your kids enjoy and just do that.” Robertson also stresses the importance of establishing a routine for kids as well as their caregivers, “if their role models aren’t making healthy choices in their food, activity level, or lifestyle, why would they?” By ensuring that their role models are practicing healthy life skills, kids will follow suit and see how essential healthy habits are.

If you are interested in learning more from our awardees about the highlights, challenges, and lessons they learned with their Unplug & Connect initiatives, join us for this year’s Community Collaborative for Child Health Summit on Saturday, May 18th from 9:30am-11:30am. Click here to learn more about the event and to register.


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