Fall 2015

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H E A LT H L I N KS 1 4 | PULSE W i n t e r 2 0 1 5 G etting kids to eat their fruits and vege- tables oen ends up being a second job for parents. With soda, candy and pro- cessed foods readily available, it's no wonder children tend to pick pizza over spa- ghetti squash when le to their own devices. In order to help change these habits, Torrance Memorial Medical Center and Torrance-South Bay YMCA have teamed up to create a program for kids ages 7-13 and their families promoting healthy lifestyle choices. Called "Healthy Ever Aer for Kids," these fun, interactive classes on nutrition and fitness are taught by registered dietitians and YMCA fitness specialists and provide useful information and practical tips through hands-on learning, fun exercises, and parent and child activities. "e original program was Kids 'n' Fitness, curriculum from the program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles," says Helaine Lopes, coordinator of the program. "It was a six-week (one night a week) parent-child program teaching nutrition and encouraging activity, held at Torrance Memorial. We adapted the program to encourage more activity by part- nering with the Torrance YMCA—which has been great. Participants are given a free six- week family membership to the YMCA. We have about five sessions a year. e feedback from the parents has been great." Kids will learn the benefits of movement by using games, dance and strength training, healthy eating habits, how to set lifestyle goals and how to make changes in order to reach those goals. Parents learn, too. A parent or guardian must attend all class meetings. e class is open to all—not just for those seeking weight management. Meetings are held ursdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Torrance-South Bay YMCA, 2900 W. Sepulveda Blvd. Prior registration is required. Fitness classes are free of charge and the instructor provides all material. MORE WAYS TO KEEP KIDS HEALTHY Torrance Memorial Medical Center wanted to reach more children with lessons from the Healthy Ever Aer for Kids curriculum so it started a parent docent program at the elementary schools in Torrance Unified School District (TUSD). "We started five years ago with a pilot school and then four schools joined in," says Helaine Lopes, coordinator of the program. "We now serve all 17 schools. There is a lesson four times a year." Parents are instructed how to teach topics such as "MyPlate," "Fresh Foods from Local Farmers," "Reading Labels," and "Sugar" and are given props and a healthy snack to go with each lesson. The parents teach in individual classrooms or assembly style. "TUSD Nutrition Services works with us to provide the snacks and keep perishable items like produce in the cafeteria," says Lopes. "They have been wonderful. We are also working with Sprouts grocery store, which gives us a discount on our orders." A third program was started last year. "We thought about having a Saturday clinic where children would come with their parents to have their body mass index (BMI) calculated based on their height and weight and then follow up with any assistance they may need from Torrance Memorial," says Lopes. "The thought was that even those who wanted to come may not make it due to how busy everyone is these days. So we decided to go to them." This year Torrance Memorial went to each TUSD elementary school, and if a child had a signed permission slip from a parent, a Torrance Memorial representative would take his or her height and weight and then inform parents via a letter of their child's BMI. All parents received a letter whether their child was measured or not (about 1/2 the students were measured). If they did not get measured, the letter explained the program and offered help if needed. Children who fell under the category of "at risk overweight" or "overweight" were offered further evaluation for free, including blood work and a one-hour consult with a registered dietitian. "We did have a few families who needed our help and did follow-up," says Lopes. "We also encouraged them to join the Healthy Ever Aer for Kids program at the YMCA. We plan on continuing this next year." For more information on Healthy Ever After for Kids, please contact Michael Vicari at 310-325-5885 ext. 2714 or michaelvicari@ymcala.org. HEALTHY EVER AFTER FOR KIDS TORRANCE MEMORIAL AND TORRANCE-SOUTH BAY YMCA TEAM UP TO HELP KEEP KIDS HEALTHY.

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