CATCH: An Interview With the Trainers

November 13, 2012

Deb Carneol, the JCC's Social Media Coordinator, recently sat down with Heather Spencer, one of the JCC’s Early Childhood education teachers at Gan Ami: Beginnings, Preschool and Kindergarten and Aaron Miller, the Sports & Recreation Director and Sports Camp Director at the JCC to talk about their recent experience at a conference in New York, which focused on children’s health.  They learned a lot and were eager to share their experience with our JCC community.  Check out their Q&A session below! 

Deb: The two of you went to a conference in New York that was focused on CATCH.  For those of us who have zero idea what CATCH stands for, what does that mean?

Heather: It stands for the Coordinated Approach To Children’s Health

D: Great, but what does that REALLY mean?

H: What it REALLY means is that we are trying to get children into the habit of eating better, incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diet, and to get them moving more so that they can become more healthy adults.

Aaron: Another component to add to that is that it is not just for the kids.  It is a full curriculum with tips for parents to help encourage their kids to be active and healthy.  One thing that a lot of people are unaware of is that CATCH is a national program, not one that was created specifically here at the JCC.  But the JCCA (JCC Association) took CATCH and added a Jewish component.  What we did at the conference was we looked at CATCH through a Jewish lens.

D: So the conference you went to wasn’t just a CATCH conference, it was a JCCA CATCH conference? 

A: Correct.  The participants were only JCC staff.  It was us, the Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, Akron, Boston, Austin, Florida, Connecticut, and more.

D: Very interesting, so tell me a little bit more about the conference.  Was it a lot of lectures or was it more hands on?  Did you get to participate in any of the CATCH activities?

H: The conference was actually called “Retrain the Trainers,” so we were getting a refresher course on what we were originally trained for when CATCH came to us as a pilot site. So we were learning how to teach CATCH training for our own staff here at the JCC.

D: I see, so the conference was to give you two the tools to train our JCC staff CATCH programs.

A: Yes, and they did it in a fun way.  The conference was three days, so the first day, we (the people getting trained) were the kids, and we were trained how to play the games.  Day two we acted as teachers, teaching kids how to do the CATCH activities.  Then day three, we acted as trainers who would then teach the JCC staff how to use CATCH in their programs.  It was interesting to see all three viewpoints.  I think it is going to make the two of us more effective trainers.

D: I would think so!  Okay, sorry to switch gears here, but you said earlier this was a “retraining” conference, yes?  Since this is a retraining, that implies that we have done CATCH here at our JCC before.  How did the JCC use CATCH prior to your “retraining conference?”

H: In Gan Ami, we have been working both with the teachers and with Health, Recreation & Fitness interns to take our classes into the gym and studio spaces and doing CATCH activities with the children.  All of the teachers have access to the CATCH activities equipment, so many of them will do a CATCH activity instead of just open playtime.  The JCC has also had CATCH activities at the beginning of our Family Movie Nights to get children moving before they are sitting through a movie.

A: Like Heather said, we do all of these things currently, but we are looking to expand the program.

D: Across the JCC?

H: Yes, we want to make the transition from Aaron’s recreation classes to the Gan Ami program and vice versa easy. We do that by using common CATCH language, like “one, two, three, hands on knees,” “skitter scatter,” “mingle, mingle,” “make a parade route,” “bubble of space,” and more.  (Click here to see definitions)

A: And these words are not just meant to be used during the CATCH activity. We want them to become common language as the kids walk through the halls of the JCC as well.

D: Those words are catchy.  I bet we start to hear that language being used amongst the JCC staff.  That would be funny.  Anyways, this program sounds really interesting and beneficial for the children; do you have any idea of when we are going to start seeing more CATCH training and programming?

H: We are hoping to get training in before the end of the year that includes staff from all over the JCC, but we will for sure do a soft retraining for our Gan Ami staff at our January professional development days.

A: And we have to remember that this is not a program that is limited just to Gan Ami and the sports classes.  We are hoping to integrate it into other programs like Kids Center and even CAFA B DATA.

D: Like “CATCH approved meals?”

A: Maybe. It is a larger conversation that we will be having in the future, but we will see more CATCH at the JCC.

D: Well, I am excited to see more CATCH here at the JCC.  I guess my last question for the two of you is what are you most excited about in regards to the retraining of our JCC staff in CATCH?

H: I guess for me it is empowering our staff to affect children’s lives for the better.  I can’t imagine anything more amazing than children taking what they learned from our staff here, whether it is through sports classes, Gan Ami, or even aquatics classes, and becoming healthier, more balanced adults in the future.  That would be the ultimate reward.

A: And for me it is giving the staff the tools to teach the parents.  We, as staff, can retrain and train how to teach CATCH, but we need to empower our parents as well, so that the learning continues once they leave the JCC’s doors.

D: Thank you both for taking the time to meet with me and explain CATCH to our JCC family.  I think I have a better understanding of what CATCH is and also the direction the JCC is going to take.

For more information about CATCH activities contact Aaron Miller at 414-967-8330

CATCH Retraining Conference


CATCH Language

One, two, three, hands on knees – Freeze, stop what you are doing

Skitter scatter – move from one place to another

Mingle, mingle – walk around the activity area

Make a parade route – marching together in line

Bubble of space – give yourself room to do the activity