Fundamental, Individually-Tailored Nutrition and Exercise Trajectories for Students (FIT-NETS) is a physical education and fitness mentoring program for at-risk secondary students in community day schools. The goal of FIT-NETS is to create positive behavior change around fitness and nutrition, resulting in better mental health, lower incidences of substance use and improved concentration and impulse control. The program builds on student successes in fitness and nutrition to help them apply skills and confidence they have gained in FIT-NETS to improving their classroom behavior, academic performance and positive goal-setting around education and career.
The main FIT-NETS strategy is individual wellness case management (WCM), an adaptation of both prevention case management and motivational interviewing intervention models. In WCM, students work one-on-one with a wellness case manager to create and complete an individual wellness plan. Any barriers to completing the plan, including barriers that might not normally be addressed by a fitness-oriented intervention (e.g., gang involvement) are addressed in counseling. A second strategy in the program is “embedded teacher-training” designed increase the capacity of school staff to deliver effective PE programs.
The project’s formal evaluation noted improvements in students’ eating habits, increases in students’ enjoyment of physical activity and increased emphasis on healthy eating in the school environment. 80% of students surveyed indicated that they had made changes in their eating habits or physical fitness and student reactions to the program have been positive. Teachers and administrators have reported that FIT-NETS has had a “very positive” impact at their school. They noted that students’ knowledge and consciousness about exercise and nutrition have increased and have observed improved attendance and sportsmanship and a reduction in behavior problems, at FIT-NETS schools.
Project staff are working to sustain and replicate the FIT-NETS program using pre-professional and/or pre-licensed interns from appropriate graduate programs.
Project Director / Principal Investigator
Santa Clara County Office of Education
U.S. Department of Education (USDOE)