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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Faculty & Staff

Friends, family bounce into shape


BOUNCE is a program that works to fight childhood obesity in young girls. It recently expanded to include family participation in the program as well.  |  Courtesy of BOUNCE

In honor of Women’s History Month, Norma Olvera, UH associate professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance, is recognized for her work with Behavior Opportunities Uniting Nutrition Counseling and Exercise.

A UH alumna, Olvera received a doctorate in developmental psychology with an emphasis on child health. Responsible for the overall management of the BOUNCE program, she has 18 years of experience in evaluating and designing healthy lifestyle programs that educate participants on nutrition, exercise and behavior modification.

BOUNCE began as a summer program in 2005 with a mission “to empower Hispanic and African-American girls between ages of 9 to 14 and families to adopt a healthy lifestyle by incorporating healthy food choices, daily exercise and positive self-esteem in a supportive environment,” according to the program’s website.

A year later, BOUNCE added mothers to the program to enhance the experience and to change people’s lives. Christina Luna, the program coordinator, said she is most surprised with how much she has learned personally about her own eating habits and healthy living while working with BOUNCE.

“My favorite part about BOUNCE is definitely the participants and the reward aspect of seeing how we can actually change people’s lives with a couple of sessions,” Luna said. “Mother-daughter relationships have changed for the better after working with us. Seeing how they’ve become healthier, not only through the research we get, but actually (physically) seeing it myself is a great reward.”

With recent statistics showing an increasing trend in childhood and adolescent obesity, BOUNCE is an ideal program to be implemented after school and in the community for its target demographic.

“Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.”

Family participation is a new goal for BOUNCE: to include siblings, parents and extended family in the program and to get the community involved. The whole family is now invited to participate in the intervention.

The most recent addition to the program is a 5K Change Run, which will take place April 5 at UH. BOUNCE will accept donations to benefit further developments in the program and offers online registration as well as on-site registration at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center.

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