Granite State FitKids Celebrates 20 Years
For Charles “Dr. Chuck” Cappetta, MD, FAAP, the Granite State FitKids program is all about giving back to local communities.
Celebrating its 20th year, Granite State FitKids is an interactive health awareness program geared toward fourth-grade students. Cappetta began the program in three schools in 1997, and since then, it has grown to over 30 statewide, including Massachusetts.
It’s a seven-week program that consists of lessons called “The Body Workshops” that teaches students about everything from the negative impact smoking and chewing tobacco can have on their health, to learning about the food pyramid and good nutrition, to gastrointestinal or “guts” week.
“Every child is unique, special and different. This program helps us elevate and support them,” he says. “We want these children to adopt healthy lifestyle habits at a young age, and we encourage that by our hands-on activities.”
Cappetta has been a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD) for 26 years. He worked in Lebanon for his first three years before moving to and working in Nashua.
“The child is at the center of this program, with teachers around them, and parents and the community around them. I want students to have a fun experience along the way,” he says.
Cappetta says since he was the school doctor for many of these schools, he approached three principals with the idea of educating students about health and their bodies.
“It started in Nashua, but has since moved as far up north as Bow, New Hampshire, and south to Lowell, Massachusetts,” he says.
The Granite State FitKids program has won many awards and recognitions. In May 2005, it was given a “Silver Award” in The Cooper Institute’s Children’s Healthy Bodies Initiative. In April 2006, it was selected as one of seven programs from the U.S. to be included in the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/World Health Organization publication, Best Practices for Physical Activity Promotion Around the World. In April 2007, it was listed as a “Classroom Curriculum and Energizer” in the New Hampshire Foundation for Healthy Communities release, “Recommendations from the New Hampshire Childhood Obesity Expert Panel-Preventing Childhood Obesity: Promoting Physical Activity and Healthy Eating.”
“I can’t believe this program has been running for 20 years now. It was once just a little pilot and it’s just sort of blossomed,” he says. “I would love to get the leaders of tomorrow, whether it’s nursing students or students at the med school level, to understand why I got involved in the first place, which is giving back. Being a part of something more than yourself.”