Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It! (MEND), a program designed for families with children, begins Monday, April 11, at Community Y’s John Tod Centre.
MEND is modelled on a U.K.-based program, which empowers families with children above a healthy weight to become healthier by participating in twice-weekly sessions focused on healthy meal planning, goal setting and physical activity. MEND 7-13 is offered Mondays and Thursdays, 6-8 p.m. at the centre, 435 McGowan Ave.
With MEND, children in B.C. aged five to 13 years, gain access to fun, interactive support in adopting healthier behaviours to help achieve a healthy weight.
MEND is delivered in partnership with the Provincial Health Services Authority and the Childhood Obesity Foundation, which work with the YMCA and B.C. Recreation and Parks Association to bring MEND to communities throughout the province. The program will be expanded with an additional $2 million in funding announced Monday.
“We were very pleased to see that families who participated in MEND 7-13 made healthy lifestyle changes and planned to make more changes after finishing the program,” said Dr. Tom Warshawski, chair of the Childhood Obesity Foundation.
“Children participating in the MEND program increased physical activity and met Canadian physical activity guidelines. MEND also helped families to build physical activity into their daily routine. In addition, children participating in the MEND program increased fruit and vegetable intake and MEND helped families to better understand healthy eating and to build it into their daily routine.”
MEND encourages a healthy body and self-image, with a focus on physical and emotional health. Examples of MEND activities include teaching healthy skills to parents and children, like healthy eating, grocery store tours and one hour of physical activity for children.
MEND is one component of the government’s strategy to promote childhood healthy weights. Other programs within the strategy include the Shapedown BC program, offered in five health authorities, which provides medical, nutritional and psychological assessment, education and support for children with weight management issues by physician referral.
In addition, the HealthLink BC Eating and Activity Program for Kids is a telehealth service that helps British Columbia children, teens and their families reach healthy weights and improve their overall health and quality of life. Launched in February 2015, the service provides healthy eating and active living coaching for at-risk families in rural and remote parts of the province who may have limited access to the direct, in-person supports provided in MEND and Shapedown BC.