We have been reminded many times that our children are becoming less fit, overweight or generally less healthy, but what are we doing about it? We definitely recognize that there is a problem, but just talking will not produce much change. We also know that some kids and their families may need a little more help changing directions.
MEND, or “Mind. Exercise. Nutrition. Do it!” was pioneered in 2013 and the results have been very positive: the program makes a positive difference in the lives of families. The underlying idea behind MEND is to guide rather than prescribe. Sessions involve parents and their children where they learn about how to choose healthier foods and spend more time being physically active. They learn that even small changes can make a big difference. Sessions include practical demonstrations, games and tips about healthy foods, reading labels and portion sizes. There are fun physical activities for kids while parents discuss their successes and challenges with trained program leaders.
Much of the success of MEND comes from its approach: MEND is definitely NOT a diet, nor is it a weight loss program, and it is certainly not someone telling you what to do!
Both these programs are designed to help kids to be more healthy. Doing so via family involvement and support has been proven as an effective method. The payoff for all involved is a healthier, better life. And kids who learn good habits will benefit for the rest of their lives.
MEND is offered in many communities around BC including:
- Powell River starting October 6, 2015 through the city’s Parks, Recreation and Culture department. Contact Christine Parsons (604.485.8903) for information or to register.
- Squamish planned to start in January 2016. It will be run by the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. Contact Andrea Kuba (778.920.9017) for more.
HealthLink BC offers another alternative that’s available across BC, the phone-based “Eating and Activity Program for Kids.” This program schedules eight phone sessions with a registered pediatric dietitian and a qualified exercise professional to provide education and counselling on healthy eating and active living topics. Ongoing support and follow-up appointments are also available. Sessions discuss health priorities and helps families to develop new skills, focussing on supporting behaviour changes for healthy eating, active living and lifestyle habits. The program is free to BC residents and any child, teen or family concerned about being above a healthy weight is eligible to participate.
Participants also receive a program workbook that includes educational materials and fun activities. Program materials are tailored to meet family needs and address barriers to healthy living. To get more information about the program:
Written by Dr. Paul Martiquet, Medical Health Officer for Rural Vancouver Coastal Health including Powell River, the Sunshine Coast, Sea-to-Sky, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.