CHAMPIONS Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary

Posted in: News


If you are unfamiliar with the program, CHAMPIONS is a prevention-driven health and wellness program delivered
 to a population of public school students in grades K-8. This comprehensive 
program is much more than just a youth exercise program – it is based 
on principles and techniques designed to improve gross motor skills, flexibility, posture, strength, balance and coordination using a long-term physical development approach to fitness and nutrition. The CHAMPIONS model is outcome-driven and has gained national attention from both the Alliance of Community Health Plans and the National ‘Let’s Move!’ Initiative.

But let’s take a look what this means after 10 years in Florida. The CHAMPIONS program began the academic year with an average of 43% of students classified as overweight or obese, and ended the school year with an average of 39% of students classified this way. In other words, for each school year that CHAMPIONS operated as a program within the school day, the share of obese or overweight students decreased by an average of more than 9%. These are not just numbers on a ledger, they are actual children whose lives have been positively changed by the program. If all children enrolled in Florida Medicaid were to participate in a program like CHAMPIONS, and if approximately 9% of obese children within that group were to see body weight normalized within the school year, this would amount to an estimated savings to Medicaid of about $25 million per year!


It’s not only the obesity stats that tell the story. Participants saw a dramatic decrease in the amount of juvenile arrests in the counties participating in the CHAMPIONS program (compared to counties of similar demographics). Boys and girls participating in the program increased their problem-solving skills by 44% and 71%, respectively, during the school year, while in the control groups boys improved by 7% and girls declined by 15% during the same time. The program also had a significant impact in reducing negative behavior as rejected in school disciplinary issues. CHAMPIONS boys and girls decreased negative conduct by 50% and 36% respectively, while control group boys decreased by only 7% and girls increased bad behavior conduct scores by 2% during the same time.

The CHAMPIONS program cost less than $80 per student in 2015. These findings clearly demonstrate that CHAMPIONS pays for itself in multiple direct cost savings for participating counties each year. The findings also suggest the importance of repeat contact with students over time – not only for giving students the best chance at healthy habits but for offering substantial gains in life skills and behavior. Each child whose weight is normalized through CHAMPIONS or related interventions will save the health care system more than $278,000 over his or her lifetime.

The results are tangible real life scenarios that have made positive leaps in physiological and psychological attributes for the participating students. “CHAMPIONS has been one of the most rewarding experiences to be a part of,” says CHAMPIONS Director, Jen Ace. “CHAMPIONS impacts and serves so many children in such a variety of ways and is much bigger than one person and one organization. It has been built and sustained through community partnerships and individuals focused on making a difference in children’s lives the communities in which they serve.” It’s that passion and energy that has helped CHAMPIONS get to where the program is today.

When discussing the future of the program, the conversations are optimistic and confident that these results will continue to show the value in CHAMPIONS. Jen adds, “The future is limitless for CHAMPIONS. We hope the data speaks for itself and that states, communities and individuals continue to want to be a part of something that can change the trajectory of health and performance of youth within society.” We look forward to another 10 years of Capital Health Plan CHAMPIONS, powered by TITUS Human Performance.

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