Program promotes healthy living in children

In an effort to conquer childhood obesity, Chilliwack YMCA is providing the MEND program, free of charge, for overweight children.

Chilliwack YMCA

Chilliwack YMCA

Childhood obesity doesn’t end without a buy in from the kids.

That’s the message a Chilliwack program is trying to relay to both children and their parents.

MEND, which stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it, is a free program giving children, and their families, the tools necessary to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

Through fun, engaging activities.

The program, coordinated by Chilliwack YMCA and supported by the B.C. Health Ministry and the Childhood Obesity Foundation, is designed for children between the ages of 7 and 13 who are above a healthy weight for their body size.

“In Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley alone, about 35 to 40 per cent of kids are above a healthy weight,” said Andrea Gieselman, kinesiologist and MEND coordinator.

The health implications of being overweight are frightening – and not just the longterm effects.

“We’re seeing more and more cases of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes creeping into younger and younger age groups,” said Gieselman. “A lot of those are lifestyle impacted ailments.”

MEND is a 10-week program with two two-hour sessions a week.

Developed in the UK 13 years ago by a group of registered dietitians, behavioural psychologists and leading experts in exercise, it’s had more than 10,000 families successfully complete.

It’s not a diet, a weight-loss fad, or bootcamp. Kids are not strapped to a chair and fed reams of confusing scientific information for hours. Rather, they’re included in the conversation and are introduced to fun games to help them better understand nutrition labels, unrefined foods versus refined foods, healthy fats and sugars versus non-healthy.

One way is through MEND Detective.

Every child participant is given a wallet-sized information card with a magnifying glass attached. With their magnifiers, they review labels and sleuth out the MEND friendly and MEND unfriendly ingredients.

“We’re not telling them they can’t eat MEND unfriendly ingredients, we just want them to be more aware and eat more of the MEND friendly ingredients,” said Gieselman.

“We’re asking families to make small changes and we’re equipping them with the information and tools to make those changes manageable.”

There’s also a physical activity component that has kids playing games, like “rock-paper-scissors Olympics, to get their heart rates elevated, their breathing intensified, and most important, their laughter roaring.

“A lot of these kids really lack confidence in a physical setting,” said Gieselman. “The MEND physical activity component really helps build their confidence.”

The program isn’t just for kids though. At least one parent or guardian is required to attend the session, where they, too, will learn things like how to eat healthy on a budget, and how to incorporate MEND principles into a busy day, or at a restaurant.

“Role modeling is so important,” said Gieselman.

“Getting kids to change their habits at an early age sets them up for longterm success.”

MEND uses the Body Mass Index scale to determine healthy weight.

The program starts on May 1 at Chilliwack secondary and runs on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Participating families will be provided with a three-month family membership to the YMCA during the program, and those that complete will receive an additional three-month pass.

For more information, contact Andrea Gieselman at 604-799-3732 or agieselmanymca@gmail.com.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Six Chilliwack public schools have recent COVID-19 exposures

Student absentee rate dipped to almost 30 per cent during height of COVID-19 exposures

City of Chilliwack 2020 budget contains an emphasis on lighting upgrades, among other key priorities, with this example of the improved performance of LED lights. (City of Chilliwack)
UPDATE: Citizens weighed in virtually on the Chilliwack budget at Dec. 1 public hearing

Topics included sloughs, cycling, and blueways, as well as RCMP caseloads, and firehall staffing

DriveBC photo.
Westbound Highway 1 lanes in Abbotsford closed as crews investigate serious crash

Crash occurred between McCallum and Clearbrook roads at around 4 a.m., next update at 8 a.m.

A convoy of seven pickup trucks, six of which were hauling boats, makes its way around the Chilliwack Law Courts on Dec. 1, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
First court date for Fraser River anglers ticketed during demonstration fishery

Convoy of trucks circled the courthouse in downtown Chilliwack Tuesday honking their support

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

(Needpix.com)
Fraudsters projected to use pet scams to gouge over $3M from customers: BBB

The pandemic heavily contributed to the number of puppy scams

The westbound lanes of Highway 1 between Clearbrook and McCallum roads were closed to traffic Wednesday morning after a fatal collision involving a pedestrian.
Pedestrian dies after being struck by vehicle on Highway 1 in Abbotsford

Collision takes place early Wednesday morning between Clearbrook and McCallum roads

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Haley Callison. (Facebook photo)
Former B.C. pro hockey player frustrated with COVID-deniers after horrific bout with virus

Haleigh Callison hopes people will follow precautions and tone down the rhetoric

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

FILE – A near empty waterfront train platform is pictured in downtown Vancouver, Monday, April 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
TransLink disables some services for second day due to ‘suspicious network activity’

Customers cannot use credit card or debit card at fare gates or Compass card vending machines

A man stands in the window of an upper floor condo in Vancouver on March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners amid rising premiums

Council CEO Janet Sinclair says the change will mean less price volatility

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

Most Read