The Chilliwack Family YMCA will be offering children a free health and lifestyle program that has gained international repute for its effectiveness.
The Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it! (MEND) program-for children aged seven to 13 who are above a healthy weight-is designed to help children and their families develop behaviours that support sustainable, healthy lifestyles.
"It's nice that this program is so well established," said Andrea Gieselman, MEND program facilitator. "It's been run in the UK and other parts of North America for the last 13 years. It's very well developed [and] very well researched with amazing results."
The program runs for 10 weeks in a series of two-hour sessions that begin with an educational component on material like reading food labels, serving sizes, building self-esteem and positive parenting.
"The kids learn a lot, and the parents are there to support the kids, and also learn ways to help the children and help behaviour change in their home," Gieselman said.
Afterwards, children will participate in a physical activity session that takes a positive twist on fitness.
With 30 to 40 per cent of children in B.C. above a healthy weight, Gieselman said the sooner unhealthy behaviours are tackled, the better.
"We're seeing those numbers sneak lower and lower into younger and younger ages and learning that there are health implications associated with that that we typically only thought occurred in adults, such as hardening of the arteries," she said.
Proven health benefits of MEND include increased cardiovascular fitness, increased physical activity per week for participants and improvements in body image and self-esteem.
MEND is funded through the Ministry of Health.
The program begins Oct. 3 and runs Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon.
For more information or to sign up, contact Karen Bester at 604-792-3371 ext.2414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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