The UHS Stay Healthy Kids program is a free resource that helps families learn healthy habits that will benefit children and adults alike.
The program is open to any school-age child, regardless of body mass index (BMI). Children just need a referral from their primary care provider. “The referral is just to make sure physicians know that the family is interested in making healthy changes and that there aren’t any health issues we need to be aware of,” says program coordinator Leah Miller.
The program is divided into four sessions over the course of two months, with a session being held every two weeks. During the first session, program coordinators learn about each family’s current habits and behaviors and help them set new health and fitness goals. “When an entire family is working together toward the same goal, the child tends to be more successful,” Ms. Miller says.
The next two sessions focus on nutrition. Children create journals to keep track of their meals and physical activity. Coordinators then work with families to gauge where they need help making changes, whether it’s swapping junk food for healthier snacks, learning how to read food labels or gathering tips for healthier grocery shopping.
The last session teaches families how to be more active and limit children’s screen time. “The more technology available means the more time they’re using it, whether it’s television, phones or tablets,” Ms. Miller says. Children should enjoy about 60 minutes of physical activity each day, and the session gives tips for breaking up this time into smaller and more obtainable goals.
Children also receive giveaways like jump ropes and water bottles to get them excited about healthy activity at home. They are encouraged to bring as many family members as they’d like to the sessions.
“I really enjoy active living and I’m trying to make the same changes these kids are, so it helps to be that role model for them,” Ms. Miller adds. “It’s really important to start when kids are young to instill healthy habits for a lifetime.”
To learn more about UHS Stay Healthy Kids, call 763-6722.