Healthy-Lifestyle Intervention Program (HIP)

Event information

Is your child growing at the higher end of the growth curve?

Are you looking for a program to promote your child’s physical health and school readiness?

Do you want to learn strategies to encourage your child to adopt healthier eating habits and enjoy being active while at the same time making sure he/she is ready to succeed at school?

Starting June 15, 2015, the Center for Children and Families (CCF) at FIU offers a summer program for young children ages 4 to 6, based on the award-winning comprehensive research based Summer Treatment Program (STP). The Healthy-Lifestyle Intervention Program (HIP) is an intensive 8-week behavioral family intervention that actively involves both children and parents in promoting physical health as well as children’s school readiness.

Children engage in a variety of recreational and classroom activities, embedded within an 8-week therapeutic summer day camp setting.

Parents also participate in weekly evening meetings in which they learn strategies shown to improve children’s physical health, behavioral and emotional functioning, and school readiness. Curriculum is adapted from evidence-based behavioral family lifestyle interventions and the internationally recognized Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) program.

Goals & Benefits

  • Children will become familiar with and increase their enjoyment of healthier food
  • Children will build a positive attitude towards a healthy lifestyle, learning, and school
  • Improvement of children’s academic and behavioral skills they will need to succeed in school
  • Improved ability to focus and follow classroom rules and routines
  • Improved emotional functioning, self-control skills, and self-esteem
  • Building team work, good sportsmanship, and basic sports skills

Parents will practice and learn strategies to:

  • encourage healthier eating and physical exercise
  • reduce problem behaviors associated with picky eating and/or resistance to new foods
  • encourage children’s self-control skills
  • promote learning and academic success
  • promote better communication with their children.

Daily Program Components

Children will participate in a variety of activities during the day:

Nutritional Component: A positive behavioral system is implemented throughout the day aimed at helping children learn and practice healthy eating habits (e.g., eating fruits and vegetables; chewing slowly). For example, children earn green tokens for participating in classroom activities, learning about healthy “green” foods, and eating healthy meals.

Fitness, Team Work, & Sports Skills Development: Children will participate in daily structured and non-structured physical activities. For example, non-structured activities may entail participating in creative aerobic exercises as well as integrating technology such as Xbox kinect. Structured activities include sports activities aimed at teaching the fundamentals of team sports (tee-ball, kickball, & soccer) and good sportsmanship.

Literacy & Academic Development: Children will participate in large and small group learning activities focused on children’s literacy and numeracy skills. Children will also participate in science and art activities. A healthy-lifestyle theme will be embedded throughout all academic work.

Social Skills/Self-Control & Emotional Development: Children will participate in daily social skills/emotional development activities focused on teaching children self-control and how to work, play, and communicate positively with classmates. Children also learn how to recognize and cope with different emotions.

HIP Schedule:

A typical schedule may look as follows:

Time Activity
7:30-8:20 AM Student Arrivals
8:20-9:00 AM Healthy Breakfast Snack and Activity
9:00-9:15 AM Morning Walk/Yoga
9:15-9:45 AM Morning Meeting (Discussion of healthy theme of the week; Hands on activity)
9:45-10:45 AM 1st Exercise Period (e.g., jogging, soccer)
10:45-11:15 AM 1st Academic Period; All assignments involve theme of the week
11:15-11:45 AM 2nd Academic Period (Centers; e.g., Math)
11:45-12:45 PM Lunch with Practice of Green/Red light system
12:45-1:40 PM Recess and Quiet Time
1:40-2:10 PM Mid-Day Meeting (Discussion of healthy theme of the week; Hands on activity)
2:10-2:40 PM Self-Control Games
2:40-3:40 PM 2nd Exercise Period
3:40-4:05 PM Healthy Snack
4:05-4:35 PM End of Day Meeting (Discussion of healthy theme of the week; Hands on activity)
4:35-5:00 PM Recess
5:00-6:00 PM Daily Parent Communication

Parental Involvement

Given that HIP is designed as a behavioral family intervention, parental involvement is crucial. Parents are involved in HIP in the following ways:

. Parents receive daily feedback from counselors regarding their child’s health, behavioral, and academic progress at camp.

2. Parents receive daily feedback from counselors regarding their own progress in terms of providing their children with a healthy lunch as well as completing the joint family exercise homework.

3. Parents participate in two weekly group evening sessions:

  • Parent Training: One night is dedicated towards practicing and learning strategies to promote a healthy lifestyle at home and learning specialized behavioral management strategies, and promoting children’s school readiness.
  • Family Night: A more unstructured night is designed to help families get together and participate in a joint fun, exercise session.

4. Parents are encouraged to come to one weekly lunch with their child at camp for counselor “coaching” on promoting healthy habits during mealtime interactions.


Children ages 4 to 6 who are on the higher end of the growth curve (e.g., have a Body Mass Index in the 85th percentile or greater) are eligible for this program. Enrollment is limited, and participants are selected based on an evaluation conducted by program staff. Information required for admission is collected by program staff upon application. Behavior disorders are not an exclusion factor. Referrals can be made by school personnel, mental health professionals, physicians, or parents. Those children who meet these criteria are offered admission.

Intervention Summary

A final report, which includes detailed information regarding the effects of these interventions and recommendations is sent to parents and referring professionals at the end of the program.

HIP Staff

The program is implemented by highly trained, undergraduate paraprofessional therapists, students pursing advanced degrees in psychology, nutrition, and educational specialists. Supervision and oversight are carried out by highly experienced staff members. The psychosocial and behavioral aspects of the program are supervised by doctoral level psychologists. Dr. Paulo Graziano is the director of HIP and as a licensed psychologist he has extensive experience providing family-based behavioral lifestyle interventions as well as conducting research in the area of pediatric obesity. He also co-directs the Summer Treatment Program for Prekindergarteners (STP-PreK) that focuses on improving children’s behavioral, social-emotional, and school readiness.

For more information on working at HIP, please see the Employment and Internship Opportunities page.

Program Evaluation and Investigation

The model of HIP is based on the Summer Treatment Program (STP) for elementary-aged children, which uses treatments that have been well documented and shown to be effective through research. Data are gathered via several methods, including observational, psychometric, neuropsychological, and rating measures, evaluated to determine individual and group responses to treatments.

To help further the understanding of health problems in young children, information is gathered from families enrolled in the program. Children may be asked to perform a variety of fitness, behavioral, and academic tasks to assess their level of health and school readiness. Similarly, parents may be asked to complete rating scales or to be observed in controlled settings that measure different aspects of family functioning. In order to maintain confidentiality and a complete understanding of these projects, parents are asked to sign consent forms that describe each project prior to their children’s participation in the project.


The fees for HIP are established in recognition of the cost of offering such a service. Health insurance plans may cover portions of the cost of this program; however, payment levels vary depending on the specific provisions of respective plans. During the application and screening process, each parent has an opportunity to meet with a representative from the Center for Children and Families, who can answer questions concerning health care benefits and other important financial aspects associated with HIP.

How to Apply

To initiate the enrollment process, interested parents or professionals should call the Center for Children and Families at (305) 348-0477, between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm, Monday through Friday, or write to:

Center for Children and Families
Florida International University
11200 S.W. 8th Street
AHC I Rm. 146
Miami, FL 33199

Enrollment is limited, and parents are encouraged to apply as early as possible!