Hop, Skip and Bounce: Summer Camp at UH Teaches Healthy, Fun Living

Four-year-old program focuses on minority, middle and elementary school girls

From scrapbooking to journaling to money tips to leadership skills. One summer camp at the University of Houston has a little BOUNCE.

“Our goal is to encourage minority adolescent girls to feel good about themselves inside and out, and we want them to have a lot of fun on that discovery,” said Norma Olvera, BOUNCE program director and associate professor in the department of health and human performance.

BOUNCE, Behavior Opportunities Uniting Nutrition, Counseling and Exercise, is a four-week summer camp that focuses on the importance of physical activity, healthy eating and positive body image. Among the activities are Beauty Within Me, Dealing with Bullies, The Making of a Super Role Model, Conflict Resolution, My Healthy Plan and Etiquette. Girls also will practice yoga, hip-hop dancing and salsa.

“These students are at a point in their lives where they are deciding what to believe in and how to live,” Olvera said. “We want those choices to lead to good habits, habits they can live their lives by.”

One feature of the BOUNCE experience involves the girls and their mothers. Olvera, who studies how family, environment and culture affect diet and physical activity, says the camp acknowledges the influence moms have in their homes and strives to educate both mothers and daughters about how healthy lifestyles prevent obesity and its related illnesses.

“Plus, it is so beautiful to see the moms dancing with their daughters or learning about eating right,” Olvera said.

BOUNCE has been funded since its inception four years ago by St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities, which strives to advance community health in body, mind and spirit.

“In 2003, when overweight became the number one public health epidemic, St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities convened community leaders and academicians to develop a plan to prevent childhood overweight,” said Dr. Patricia Gail Bray, executive director of St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities. “BOUNCE was one of the first programs we funded to enable adolescent girls to learn more about positive lifestyle changes and ways to grow one’s self-esteem.”

BOUNCE received the Texas Public Health Association’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Best Practices award in 2006.

For more information about BOUNCE, visit http://bounce.uh.edu/.
For more information about St. Luke's Episcopal Health Charities, visit www.slehc.org.
For more information about the UH department of health and human performance, visit www.hhp.uh.edu/.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

About St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities
St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System (www.stlukestexas.com) includes St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, founded in 1954 by the Episcopal Diocese of Texas; St. Luke’s The Woodlands Hospital; St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities, a charity devoted to assessing and enhancing community health, especially among the underserved; and KS Management Services, LLC, overseeing 18 area clinic locations. St. Luke’s Sugar Land Hospital is under construction, scheduled to open in 2008, and St. Luke’s Clear Lake Hospital is scheduled to open in 2010. Plans are underway for St. Luke’s Lakeside Hospital in The Woodlands. St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital is home to the Texas Heart® Institute, which was founded in 1962 by Denton A. Cooley, MD, and is consistently ranked among the top 10 cardiology and heart surgery centers in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Affiliated with several nursing schools and two medical schools, St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital was the first hospital in Texas named a Magnet hospital for nursing excellence, and twice has been honored with the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence™ by HealthGrades, a leading independent company that measures healthcare quality in hospitals. The Health System has been recognized by FORTUNE as among the “100 Best Companies to Work For” and by the Houston Business Journal as a top employer in Houston.