HIGHLAND PARK, IL (MARCH 2016) –Friends for Health and the North Shore Health Center of Highland Park are encouraging its younger patients to have fun and get healthy! Every Monday and Wednesday from 4-5:30pm, they are sponsoring complimentary personal training for a group of 9-12 year old patients at the Highwood Recreation Center (428 Green Bay Road, Highwood). Space is limited to 20 young patients of the North Shore Health Center.
Through this CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health) Kids Club program, young patients and families of the North Shore Health Center participate in a series of interactive, educational workshops, learning skills to help them improve their food choices, increase physical activity and reduce screen time. Parent curriculum is based on the National Institute of Health’s WE CAN! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) model, teaching children and families how to eat right, get active and reduce screen time.
Helping area youth lead healthier lives, the Highwood Recreational Center program will be taught by Jen Weiss, personal trainer with the Park District of Highland Park.
“It makes me happy to see the smiles on kids’ faces when they are exercising and playing our exercise games,” said Weiss. “They don’t realize that through our various games, they are exercising and through this program, we’re able to make fitness fun.”
Obesity is a current epidemic and young people are at greater risk. Currently, the childhood obesity rate in Illinois is 19.3% for children aged 10-17, ranking 9th among states nationally. Programs like this are helping to raise awareness of this epidemic while working to improve statistics.
“The help of a personal trainer throughout this program has been highly successful thus far,” says Holly Kerr, Chair of Friends for Health. “We are looking for additional funding to continue to offer it with all the WE CAN! programs through 2016 and beyond.”
This program serves an average of 25 families (50 total participants) each year and targets young people between the ages of 9 and 13 and their families who are patients of the North Shore Health Center. In particular, youth whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is above the 85th percentile are recruited for participation. This program is done in conjunction with regular visits with their NSHC physicians and dietician to monitor their progress. Workshops take place over a 12-week course allowing the youth and their families to be exposed to a range of nutritional and physical activity information. Previously a four-week program, NSHC was able to extend it in an attempt to change lifestyles in young children so healthy habits can be sustained.
“I hope participants will gain an understanding of how important physical activity and nutrition are in their daily lives,” adds Weiss. “When given a good foundation and ideas to implement, good habits will develop and grow.”