Posts Tagged ‘memorial foundation’

Memorial FIT Kids Leads the Way for Healthier Futures

By Vicki Hemenway, Guest Blogger
Communications Specialist, Memorial Healthcare

It seems like there are so many extra-curricular activities available for our children these days that it can become overwhelming. If it overwhelms us, as parents, just imagine what it could be doing to our kids. I know when I’m stressed I get short-tempered, or as my daughter says, “snippy,” and my life is pretty simple compared to those of my friends.

In our house, school and homework comes first, then, if there’s time, it’s on to bike riding, basketball, etc. The part that I struggle with is healthy eating for my family. It’s too easy to just warm up a frozen dinner or go through the drive thru to save time, BUT, in the long run, it can do more harm than good.

I’m lucky enough to work at Memorial Healthcare right next to our FIT Kids Facilitator, Becky Dahlke. She is a wealth of information on healthy eating tips, low-fat/calorie recipes, the importance of exercising and more.

Memorial FIT Kids, which is funded by the Memorial Healthcare Foundation, is a joint effort between Memorial Healthcare, area school districts, Project Healthy Schools, University of Michigan, Baker College of Owosso, and the Shiawassee Family YMCA. The program was recently named one of the nation’s top 10 Programs of Excellence by Jackson Healthcare Hospital Charitable Services Awards.

In 2008, Memorial FIT Kids piloted the Project Healthy Schools (PHS) program, in conjunction with the University of Michigan and Corunna Public Schools to conduct CVD risk factor assessment followed by 10 weeks of in-class, interactive health education. Topics covered in the lessons range from assessing advertising to making salsa in class to learn the importance of choosing fruits and vegetables of all colors. Following the 10-week education program, students were re-tested to evaluate behavioral changes and health perceptions and to determine if CVD risk factors had decreased or increased. In 2009, the Memorial FIT Kids program was expanded to include Bryant Elementary in the Owosso District and St. Paul Catholic School, also in Owosso. Ovid-Elsie’s EE Knight Elementary, Perry Middle School, and Owosso Middle School were added in 2010 and Laingsburg Middle School will join in during the 2011/2012 school year.

The Memorial FIT Kids program has proven itself effective in helping to lower total cholesterol and lipid levels according to results from a longitudinal study with a pilot group of sixth graders from 2008. We are seeing a good trend in lowering LDL cholesterol and raising HDL and a significant trend in lowering resting heart rate. Students are also changing their behaviors in a positive direction.

All of the other area school districts receive two interactive lessons during the school year. The nutrition lesson includes information about food portions and how portion size has changed over the years, how the media affects our food selection decisions, and how kids can be healthier in their daily food choices. The physical activity lesson, presented by the Shiawassee Family YMCA, provides knowledge of the importance of aerobic exercise and alternatives to traditional exercise such as Tai Chi and basic kickboxing with in-class demonstration.

For additional information on the Memorial FIT Kids program, contact Dahlke at (989) 729-4852 or visit online at memorialhealthcare.org. You may also become a fan of the program on Facebook by searching for “Memorial FIT Kids.”
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