Jump with Jill was an extremely popular strategy for teaching elementary school-aged children about healthy eating. School support for the performances was extremely strong, as illustrated by teacher willingness to use materials prior to the show (unexpected and contrary to most interventions) as well as through campus leader communications to students and the community prior to performance. This enthusiasm spurred:
- an overwhelming willingness to try healthy foods – 94% of students trying foods presented to them,
- moderating extreme negative opinions of healthy foods – the number of extreme negative responses decreased no matter which group students were in.
- and sustaining motivation over time – changes recorded at the post-test remained at the follow-up test four weeks later.
- Jump with Jill creates a positive learning environment. Over 95% of students reported enjoying their experience with Jump with Jill and teachers expressed their gratitude for bringing classroom lessons to life.
- Jump with Jill is a geographically smart way to reach pockets of Texas where there is highly engaged schools with a high need for quality nutrition programming.
In support of the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) Commissioner Sid Miller’s Farm Fresh Fridays initiative, the rock & roll nutrition show Jump with Jill performed at 20 schools and 20 child care centers in the Rio Grande Valley in September and October of 2016. The Texas Farm Fresh Jump with Jill Live Tour is designed to teach students about healthy eating and to draw their attention to Texas agricultural products including fruits, vegetables, and dairy. To increase impact, schools received “Texas CRATES” filled with follow-up educational materials for classroom teachers. In addition, taste tests were conducted with selected classrooms to give students a hands-on experience with the local foods featured in the show. With a multi-year approach in place, this program impact report was built into the execution of the live shows, material rollout, and taste testings to showcase the continued efficacy of the partnership.
School districts that participated on this tour were selected based on an evaluation matrix that included criteria of: free and reduced percentage population of students (related to National School Lunch Program participation), participation in TDA’s Local Products Challenge, application to TDA’s Expanding 3Es of Healthy Living Grant, response to TDA survey indicating participation in Farm to School, participation in the 2015 and/or 2016 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant Program and whether the county location is considered rural. School districts participating in the tour had a free and reduced percentage of 90 percent or higher.
For convenience, one 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade class at six elementary schools was randomly selected to participate as the “survey” classroom. For both the Intervention and Comparison Groups, the student population was a mix of 3rd through 5th grade, equally divided by gender.In total, 106 students were surveyed with nine questions, using an interactive testing procedure that reflected the tone of the live show students would soon experience. Rather than written surveys, students answered questions by lining up behind an emoji that best described their response to each question.
The emojis represented a Likert scale and were arranged from 1 to 5 to read negative (left) to positive (right). In addition to making the activity kinesthetic, lining-up rather than hand-raising prevented multiple voting by students. Before starting the survey, student participants made a “Promise to be Honest” as a commitment to share their true feelings about their answers. Students were guided to select their responses in their head before moving to their answers to further diminish the impact of peer influence.
Prior to Jump with Jill coming to any school, teachers were provided with the link to the Jump with Jill website and a custom designed “Texas Crate” that included danceable music videos, morning announcements, posters, and activity books with teacher guides. Three “intervention” schools were selected to complete a pre-survey, then watch the show, complete a taste test, and then take a post-survey. Their results reflect exposure to the materials and the live show. The three “comparison” schools were selected to complete a pre-survey, complete a taste test, then take a post-survey. Following the post-survey, they watched the show. Hence, their pre- and post-survey results capture exposure to Jump with Jill through the materials and website only. The only difference between the comparison and intervention was the order that they saw the show.
As both the comparison and the intervention schools eventually saw the show, all were eligible to be follow-up schools. This was the first opportunity of Jump with Jill to be able to revisit schools to assess a more longterm impact. Four schools were selected for follow-up surveys to occur four weeks after seeing the show (2 from each study arm). During those four weeks, classroom teachers were asked to complete five hours (15-min per day) of follow-up activities from the CRATE.
Crate materials included cafeteria posters (in English and Spanish), educational materials, morning announcements, and the danceable music video series. Events included English and Spanish information for students. Teachers were provided with a detailed description of what to find in the box and were allowed to select whatever activities they wished. To motivate compliance, teachers were told they would be surveyed in four weeks time to report their experience with utilizing the provided tools. After the four weeks, the students retook the pre-survey, completed another taste test, and answered a second post-survey. These follow-up results attempt to capture the sustained impact of the shows and the resonance of the materials that complement the live show.
Taste tests serve to assist in TDA’s program goals to increase awareness and exposure to actual Texas-grown agricultural products. Foods to sample were also chosen based on their emphasis in the show. Cucumbers are mentioned in Superpower Vegetables, “The Bone Rap” features a low fat cheese backbeat, and Nature’s Candy song riffs on the word watermelon – who is also on stage next to the DJ wearing headphones of his own. In the same way that the show makes nutrition education a rock show and a survey into a game, Jump with Jill designed the guided taste tests to be like a character meet-and-greet. It was the goal to bias the experience in favor of the new, healthy foods so that kids would enjoy and engage. Jill & DJ served three sample foods: watermelon, cucumber, and low fat cheese either at lunch or in the classroom depending on availability. Jill & DJ recorded whether students tried or did not try the provided food so the “try rate” could be used as a measure of impact.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
Jump with Jill creates a positive learning environment. Over 95% of students reported enjoying their experience with Jump with Jill. A positive experience can have meaningful measurements for likelihood of healthy behaviors. Researchers have noted high intensity emotional experiences has an increased influence on behavior, so strong it can even overwhelm cognitive processing. Nutrition education in the form of a rock show is a strategic choice to empower audiences to action.
All schools involved in the project were so ecstatic to be chosen for the tour that they started using the Jump with Jill songs, dance moves, and materials well before Jump with Jill’s arrival. This was unanticipated event from a study design perspective because pre-materials are typically underutilized until the live show shocks staff into looking further into their mailroom. Instead, we were greeted at both intervention and comparison schools with welcome signs, fan mail, and general hysteria including group hugs, gift baskets, and CRATE materials on display.
These schools were pumped and it seriously impacted our study design – mainly that pre-test schools for both groups would come in unusually high which would not leave much room for measuring an improvement from the intervention. We learned that this level of engagement has important implications for spurring an overwhelming willingness to try healthy foods, moderating extreme negative opinions of healthy foods, and sustaining motivation over time.
Students responded most strongly to foods and behaviors associated with songs. Low fat cheese was featured in “The Bone Rap” and a headphone wearing watermelon was prominently displayed on stage, which appear to have led to measurable differences between groups.
Improvements from Jump with Jill are highly impactful over time – changes recorded at the post-test remained at the follow-up test four weeks later. Even more powerful, responses never went down.
High baseline scores support that selecting engaged schools to be a part of the tour is an effective way to to build momentum for a nutrition initiative i.e. encourage acceptance of changes to the school lunch program, participating in farm-to-school, etc. Even after Jill & DJ have come and gone, students are still expressing the same level of enthusiasm.
Jump with Jill creates realistic impressions of healthy foods, moderating negative responses no matter what group students were in. The number of extreme negative responses decreased no matter which group students were in. Kids define themselves by what they don’t eat – that is until they enter the world of Jump with Jill. The intention of Jump with Jill is to deconstruct the framework that kids have built with their dislikes and break ground with newfound attitudes and aspirations.
Jump with Jill showed strong improvements on willingness to try low fat cheese, a major Texas-produced commodity, and an important but often untouched area for a nutrition intervention. The Intervention Group showed sustained significantly higher scores throughout the study for willingness to try low fat cheese. This is an important finding in that there has not been much attention paid to changing students’ acceptance of lower-fat cheese. Unlike other reduced-fat products that remove fat but add back sugars or other substances that maintain the energy level of the product, lower fat dairy products actually just remove the fat (and hence the calories). Students enjoy many cheese-containing products – pizza, tacos, quesadillas, mac and cheese. If students accept lower-fat cheese products, their use in school and at home could help in reducing overall fat and energy intakes, thereby potentiating their role in child obesity prevention.
Jump with Jill is a geographically smart way to reach pockets of Texas where there is highly engaged schools with a high need for quality nutrition programming. Over the length of the study, almost all students in all groups tried every food presented to them! This is a powerful indicator that motivation can be cultivated with an engaged group of students and a character-guided experience can lead to actually trying a food, not just saying that they might.
Jump for Jill energizes students and teachers alike. Teacher surveys reflect gratitude and enthusiasm for bringing classroom lessons to life.
Despite our attempts to bridge cultural gaps, foods for sampling needed additional consideration. Baseline results for cucumber are significantly lower than watermelon and low fat cheese, and did not improve with the intervention. While this is often true for fruits versus vegetables, we learned that most students hadn’t ever eaten an unseasoned raw cucumber. Instead they preferred it served with Tajin, a brand name fruit and vegetable seasoning with mild chili peppers, lime, and sea salt.
Jayne, Jill (2017). Texas Farm Fresh Jump with Jill Live Tour Performances and Taste Testings Findings. Retrieved from jumpwithjill.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2016-Texas-Farm-Fresh-Jump-with-Jill-Live-Tour-Performances-and-Taste-Testings-Findings.pdf
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