Good Behavior Game encourages kids to grow up to be healthy adults

EUGENE, Ore. How do you reduce health care costs in the future?

By teaching kids to make healthy choices now, a health insurer believes.

And they're putting their money behind the idea: Trillium Community Health Plan has contributed $900,000 to local schools, teaching kids about making good choices in an attempt to reduce future health care costs.

Schools with 70 percent of its students receiving free or reduced lunches qualify.

So far, 14 schools have already implemented the program called the Good Behavior Game.

The Good Behavior Game recognizes positive behaviors, challenging students to ignore disruptions.

Debi Farr of Trillium said the program has a proven track record.

"Longitudinal studies show it reduces tobacco use by 50 percent or more," she said. "What we're doing right now is investing in prevention initiatives so that we can reduce what we're spending for healthcare."

Danebo Elementary School in Bethel participates in the program.

Cami Railey, a kindergarten teacher at the school, saod the students respond to the reinforcement. She has seen a huge change in many of her students.

"Some things work for a little while, and then they're not as effective with kids. This is something I've found is effective all year long with students," she said.

Bethel schools superintendent Colt Gill also sit on Trillium's board. He said the program teaches kids self-regulation skills.

In his experience, Gill said there are less misbehaviors and more energy devoted to learning in classrooms with the Good Behavior Game. Gill thinks the skills taught remain with students throughout their lives.

"The skills they learn when they're playing this last far beyond elementary school. They are there during times when kids are choosing or not choosing to make much riskier decisions in their lives," he said.

Forty five more teachers are currently being trained on the Good Behavior Game curriculum.

Trillium hopes that the program can be extended through all high-needs area schools in Lane County.