We Can!® Is Just What the Doctor Ordered
Posted January 12, 2011
With childhood overweight and obesity continuing to be a major health problem in the United States, many pediatricians are faced with the difficult—and sometimes uncomfortable—responsibility of talking to kids and parents about the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
However, pediatricians in Broome County and Binghamton, New York—a community site partnership that joined the We Can! City/County program in 2007—have found a solution to solve this dilemma: they are "prescribing" We Can!.
"When some physicians in the area see patients with high BMIs, they recommend that the patient and the patient's parents join the Stay Healthy Kids Club," said Patricia Fell, Director of Community Health Services at United Health Services.
The Stay Healthy Kids Club is a 12-week program for both parents and youth. During each session, the kids go into a gym area and work with a physical trainer who facilitates interactive games and CATCH Kids Club activities, while the parents work with a dietician on the We Can! Energize Our Families: Parent Program, in addition to supplemental lessons and activities.
According to Fell, the program has been a major success. In the past 3–4 months, Stay Healthy Kids Club has received 70 referrals from local physicians, and the Club is gearing up for their third 12-week session.
"We are hearing great things from parents," said Fell. "Some say they love the handouts and others are responding to staff participation."
And parents aren't the only ones responding well to the program.
"Some kids have even expressed an interest in being mentors for the next group of youth participants. They want to come back and share their stories on the healthy changes they made in their lives."
In addition to learning valuable information on how to live a healthier life, the program participants also receive a free year-long membership to the local YMCA, where they can continue to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives.
The Broome County and Binghamton partnership is working with Binghamton University to eventually evaluate the program. For now, Fell and her colleagues are collecting pre-and-post-surveys from the kids and the parents, as well as pre-and-post-BMI measurements.