December 7, 2009
Walk through a military commissary and you are likely to see children happily playing hopscotch in the fruit and vegetable section. To help promote physical activity as part of the “Eat Healthy and Be Active Your Way” program in commissaries, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) has installed a permanent hopscotch game display on the floor in the produce section of most commissaries. This was implemented to help demonstrate the link between physical activity and making healthy choices when shopping for food.
The hopscotch game is making an impact on children such as John Murray Jr. John’s mom says, “Whenever we go to the commissary he is so excited and always asks, ‘Can I hopscotch in the apples?’ The game allows John to play and I use it to let him pick out the fruit he wants to take home.”
Recently John’s mom shared a shopping adventure where he was already out of the buggy skipping towards produce saying, "Mama I get to hopscotch, yeah for me." He rounded the corner and she followed him. He had stopped and was looking back at her with big tears in his eyes and said, "Mama I can't get to hopscotch no more," as there was a pallet of watermelons covering the hopscotch game. John’s mom tried to reassure him that maybe next time he could play hopscotch. However he said, "No Mama I always get to hopscotch real good two times and pick out my fruit from the hopscotch."
Around that time Mr. Raymond Lane, Deputy Store Director came by, and seeing the big tears in John’s eyes he asked what was wrong. John pointed to the pallet of watermelons covering the display and replied, "I can't hopscotch in the apples today." Mr. Lane quickly had the pallet of watermelons moved and John was free to hopscotch.
Fast friends were made that day between Mr. Lane and John Jr. Mr. Lane gave him his card and told him, "Now you are my hopscotch checker; if the game is ever covered, you come and let me know and I will fix it." Now when Mrs. Murray and John Jr. visit the commissary they make sure to let Mr. Lane know that "the hopscotch in the apples is okay."
During 2009 DeCA and HHS signed a proclamation recognizing that eating healthy and being active are two things Americans can do to improve their health and are keys to a healthy lifestyle. In support of the proclamation DeCA is coordinating in-store displays and promotions in commissaries. The hopscotch game display is an environmental intervention designed to encourage children and families to be active along with making healthy choices while shopping in the commissary. DeCA is currently looking at the use of displays to determine how they are impacting choices in commissaries while the hop scotch game display is being enjoyed by children of all ages in commissaries.
What kind of environmental interventions have worked for your organization?