Send me in coach

Professor’s life coaching experience reflected in research

With more than 140 hours of training as a life coach, it’s not surprising that an element of coaching has worked its way into Associate Professor Renee Oscarson’s research. A few years ago, while working with a $275,000 United States Department of Agriculture grant, Oscarson combined her interest in life coaching—a practice that uses a variety of tools and techniques to help clients set and achieve goals—with coaching for a healthy lifestyle. The grant combined a community-driven approach with coaching in seven communities where Extension educators had been trained to coach community groups. Those groups were given mini grants to help foster healthy lifestyles locally.

Associated Professor Renee Oscarson is part of a team using a seven-state, $4.5 million grant to study childhood obesity prevention in 4-year-olds. Making healthy choices at an early age is important, Oscarson says, because behaviors that lead to obesity start early.

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projects included restoring a building for use as a senior center, starting an exercise group, and partnering with a school that had a four-day week to use its facilities one day a week for exercise.

Grant focuses on Moody, Corson counties
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One of Oscarson’s latest grants, for $325,000 from the United States Agriculture Department, incorporates coaching for groups and individuals. “Healthy Lifestyles: Coaching American Indian Families and Communities” is centered in Moody County, south of Brookings, and in Corson canadiandrugs-medsnorx County in north central South Dakota on the North Dakota border. “We trained people as coaches in both communities,” Oscarson says. The work of the coaches was supplemented by community resources that included parent education courses taught through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Corson County, the Santee Sioux tribal wellness center in Flandreau, and Women, Infants, and Children nurses in Flandreau. The healthy lifestyles projects chosen in each county met with varying degrees of success. Spring rains flooded one group’s community garden in Corson County while another group was more successful in its quest to install playground equipment. “The traditional tribal lifestyle is very healthy,” Oscarson says, noting that modern American Indians’ health can be threatened by high diabetes rates, lower incomes, and less accessibility to generic cialis soft tabs online fresh produce. Some participants in Corson County reported driving ninety miles to Bismarck, North Dakota, canadian pharmacy sildenafil in order to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. “There are definite challenges, but people sure are resourceful,” Oscarson says, recalling that a Flandreau focus group informed her about places offering bargains in Brookings that she didn’t know about.

Childhood obesity target of grant

Coaching will also play a role in a new $4.5-million, seven-state grant from the United States Agriculture Department designed to study childhood obesity prevention in 4-year-olds. “It takes a community approach to childhood obesity prevention,” Oscarson says. “A coach will be trained to work with these communities.” Work on the grant, which is just getting started, will include looking at policy issues, accessibility to food, and opportunities for children. “It make sense to start young,” Oscarson says of the grant’s focus on 4-year-olds, “because those behaviors are started early.” While Oscarson looks forward to working with the youngsters targeted by the grant, her background is in gerontology. She hopes to

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use the coaching experience gained from previous grants to develop a model designed to make rural communities healthier places to grow old. “We’ll do this by using the coaching method to help people take responsibility for their futures,” Oscarson says.

Dana Hess

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