The initiative “SMS. Be smart. Join in. Be fit.”, which was launched in 2012, seeks to encourage Düsseldorf primary school children to exercise more and to raise awareness for a healthy diet. It thus aims to counteract overweight/obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases in childhood and adolescence. Over a school year, the participating children receive extra lessons in nutrition and take part in an age-appropriate exercise program.
“We want to show young people that it doesn’t take much effort to lead a healthy lifestyle and that they can enjoy a variety of activities and have lots of fun,” said Professor Karsten Müssig, head of the SMS initiative.
At the beginning, the middle and the end of the one-year pilot phase the children were evaluated with the motor skills test CHECK!. The test, which is carried out in cooperation with the Düsseldorf sports department, examines the five basic motor skills in sports: speed, coordination, strength, endurance and agility. The CHECK! motor skills test was introduced in 2003 and has since been an integral part of the Düsseldorf model (DüMo) for promoting exercise, sports and talent on a regular basis at Düsseldorf primary schools. Also this year, all second graders in Düsseldorf will take part in CHECK! between February and May.
Compared to children who did not take part in the SMS initiative, the participating children showed positive effects in physical fitness. Overall, the children improved in five of the eight categories of the CHECK! test: obstacle course, standing long jump, sit-ups, forward bends and six-minute run. "Thanks to the Düsseldorf model, which also includes the SMS initiative, we have seen declining numbers of overweight children in Düsseldorf in the past few years," said Burkhard Hintzsche, the city's director, who was pleased with the results. The paper with all results of the evaluation will be published in 2017 in the renowned journal “Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes” under the title: “Positive effects of promoting physical activity and balanced diets in a primary school setting with a high proportion of migrant school children”.
The initiative “SMS. Be smart. Join in. Be fit." led by Prof. Dr. Karsten Müssig at Düsseldorf primary schools seeks to counteract overweight/obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases in childhood and adolescence. The children earn their “aid” nutrition pilot license in cooperation with the Educational Center for Dietary Assistants of the Kaiserswerther Diakonie and take part in the exercise program for primary schools “Fitness for Kids” developed by sports scientist Prof. Dr. Kerstin Ketelhut.
In addition, the pupils experience the perception of their own body in the sensory classroom of the Präha Weber School in a motor skills training course. They are also taught relaxation exercises in cooperation with the initiative “Physical Activity during School Recess” of the Dietrich Grönemeyer Foundation and the Deichmann company. The two health insurance companies IKK classic and KKH, the organization diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid, the Sports Department of Düsseldorf and other renowned partners and prominent people support the project and provide the participating school children with additional attractive venues for learning outside of school. The patron of the initiative is Thomas Geisel, mayor of the state capital Düsseldorf. In 2015 the SMS initiative was awarded the support logo of IN FORM – Germany’s initiative for a healthy diet and more exercise, and in 2016 was awarded the GUT DRAUF label of the German Center for Health Education (BZgA).
More information about the initiative can be found at: www.sms-mach-mit.de (German only)
and about CHECK! at: www.check-duesseldorf.de (German only)