Team Kid Power! (KiPOW) is a national academic-community partnership with elementary schools
addressing the childhood obesity epidemic and helping implement school wellness policies in
socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. In Dallas County public schools, the obesity rate remains
higher than the national average; additionally, the number of children with a mental health diagnosis
served by Medicaid Managed Care has increased by 169% in Dallas county from 2013-2018 (1). In 2018,
Team KiPOW Texas developed a partnership with John J Pershing Elementary School in Dallas, serving as
an adjunct to the medical home.
During the 2018-2019 academic year, we hosted 11 health mentoring sessions including 22 hours of
face-time with trusted health mentors providing interactive health education lessons, discussing healthy
eating choices while eating lunch with students, and leading group physical activities at recess together.
Post-session newsletters were sent home to promote parental involvement. We partnered with North
Texas Food Bank to host interactive healthy-snacking food demonstrations. Post-program feedback was
provided by teachers and parents. Health behaviors, measured by HABITS questionnaires and lunch
surveys, showed positive trends with respect to increased awareness of nutritional health. However, we
noted students had difficulty interpreting the post intervention HABITS questionnaires as they were
unable to reflect on their own nutrition related behaviors (2).
There is a palpable culture shift within the Pershing Elementary community to prioritize individual
physical wellness. As health mentors walk into the classroom they are greeted like local celebrities with
students crowding around them chanting “KiPOW! KiPOW!” The students eagerly change into their blue
Team KiPOW shirt, which serves as the integral symbol for our health partnership. The shirt unifies the
students and health mentors as we put our “capes” on to activate our “Kid Power” on our quest for
wellness. By building relationships with the health mentors, students actively engage with members of
the STEM community - an opportunity they may not have had access to previously.
To help combat childhood obesity, we will continue to teach a comprehensive nutrition curriculum led by
health mentors - including classroom sessions, lunch and recess mentoring, and family outreach. For the
2019-2020 academic year, we critically reviewed and revised the curriculum and our assessment tool
based on our observations from the previous year. Rather than attempting to measure behavior change,
we will assess knowledge gained (short- and long-term) through pre- and post-intervention knowledge
quizzes testing specifics from each nutrition lesson. Education helps increase the individual’s awareness
of why they need to make the change as well as how to make the change. To help combat the
dramatically rising rate of childhood mental health diagnoses, we plan to develop a comprehensive
mental health curriculum. Our goal is to teach emotional and social skills to help build self-efficacy and
motivate positive behavior change (3-5). Pre and post-intervention emotional and social skills will be
assessed by utilizing an adaptation of the validated “Student Survey” developed by Child Trends (6). This
year we are piloting a mental health intervention by teaching relaxation techniques through meditation
to start introducing mental health concepts.