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Families get healthy together in the YMCA’s MEND program  

Taking part the the YMCA
Taking part the the YMCA's MEND program are Tamyra, Stacey, Jarryd and Corey Grant.
— image credit: Contributed

MEND—Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It—is a program developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Obesity Foundation and offered locally through YMCA of Okanagan.

Through this program, families can learn about making healthier choices and spending time being active together. MEND includes a free six-month membership at Kelowna Family Y, and promotes an inclusive environment, physical activity for kids, practical demonstrations, games, and tips on choosing healthy foods, label reading and portion sizes.

Research on the success of the MEND program indicates that when families decide to adopt healthy practices as a unit, the kids are more likely to ‘buy in’.

The Grant’s decided to join MEND after being referred to the program by their son’s pediatrician in 2013. Jarryd, who was eight years old at the time, was struggling with health issues as well as a change in the family structure which lead to some weight gain and a decrease in self-esteem.

“In many ways, joining the MEND Program was the best thing that could have happened to Jarryd and our family,” explained Stacey Grant, mother and MEND participant. “Both Corey and I were really amazed by Jarryd’s excitement and enthusiasm about learning healthier ways to shop, cook and eat. He has become an excellent MEND detective, continuing to read labels for fat and sugar content and also helps in the kitchen to prepare healthy meals.

"As a family we have seen improvements in waist size, muscle tone, cardiovascular fitness, positive thinking and an increased focus on maintaining active, healthy lifestyles."

The 2013 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth by Active Healthy Kids Canada, indicates 5 to 11 year olds only get 4.1 hours a week of physical activity outside of school and organized activities. Also, according to new research from Memorial University in Newfoundland, obesity rates have tripled since 1985.

A YMCA membership is not a requirement in order to participate in this government funded program.

For more information and to find out if you qualify please visit ymcaokanagan.ca or contact Coreen Hobson, chobson@ymcaokanagan.ca.  Next session start dates are April 2 (7-13 year olds) and April 6 (5-7 year olds).

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