Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Local Mums Do Know What’s Best when it comes to MENDing kids' diets

Dee, Sam and Zoe
Local teenagers Sam and Zoe Heron, age 14 and 11, Ryan Cooke age 12 and Lewis Ellison age 14 are pupils with a lot in common. They all started high school with a much healthier future, thanks to the tough (and unpopular at times) decisions made by their mums –
Dee, Gemma and Diane.

In November, more parents are being encouraged to make the same positive choices at a special free event at Salt Ayre Sports Centre.

Over the last three years, they and their families have participated in the MEND healthy weight management course designed for youngsters aged seven – 13 at YMCAs across the North Lancashire and they are the living proof of the positive impact their mums hard decisions have made.

Dee Heron’s children Sam and Zoe graduated from the free 10 week course held back in January 2012. Dee says: “It was hard to acknowledge that we needed advice and guidance about what we were all eating and our lifestyle. My children needed to be a healthier weight and more active and I knew I had to do something for them both before it was too late.”

The British Heart Foundation’s latest UK figures released in August 2013 stated that in 2011/12 36% of boys and 32% of girls age 10 – 11 were obese or overweight. Locally this breaks down to 30% of year six children being either overweight (15%) or obese (15%) in the Lancaster area.

Diane and Lewis
In April 2011, Diane Ellison was already taking action to make sure her son Lewis was not included in any more childhood obesity statistics. And Lewis’ healthy achievements on graduation of the 10 week programme are testament to this. Lewis lost 1.6kg in weight and his recovery heart rate improved by 14 beats per minute.

Two and half years on, Lewis now 14 is making Diane very proud: “The sessions did a lot of good for Lewis’ health but also for him personally. He had become more conscious of his weight and I thought he would take more notice of the advice from someone else. He takes more of an interest in food now and fully understands the need to eat healthily.

"He plays rugby and has joined his local YMCA to train in the gym. He’s realised even more the impact that a balanced diet has on his health and energy levels.”

Steve Brown, YMCA’s MEND Co-ordinator explains: “MEND which stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It! helps families make small changes to their lifestyle that improves their health in the long-term. MEND encourages children to be more active by giving them the opportunity to try out new activities in a fun and supportive environment. The programme helps children to become more confident, healthier and happier.”

The MEND sessions cover a wide range of subjects, presented in an interactive and informative way. Together families learn a simple method of how to understand the nutrition labels on food packaging, kids get a chance to try some new foods at the Fabulous Food Fest and a tour of a local supermarket gives families a chance to see how healthy eating can be achieved with a tight budget.

Gemma Cooke attended the programme with her 12 year old son Ryan (pictured left) in April this year and his brother James (12) and sister Sammy (10) wanted to join in too. She agrees with Steve.

“The whole family have really benefited," she feels. "I have reduced the portion sizes and the family is more conscious of what they are eating. The kids still use the lessons learned during the supermarket tour so they now identify healthy foods on their own when we go shopping and play Mend Detectives.

“Ryan has really come out of his shell and is noticeably more confident and comfortable with himself.

"He used to wear layers of clothes when playing out, even in summer, but he doesn’t anymore. And his sister now eats more because she understands the need for balance and the minerals and vitamins gained from eating the right food.”

In addition to discovering about food, MEND also provides the chance for kids to get active with fun and energetic sessions designed to raise the heart rate and a smile. Families discuss how to reduce sedentary time, moving away from the TV and games consoles and getting outside where the whole family can play and have fun together.

All of the mums agree that taking action and participating in the MEND programme has been one of the best decisions they have made for their children’s future and their joint message: “do it now!”.

• This Autumn, Fylde Coast YMCA have partnered with Lancaster City Council to bring the MEND programme to Salt Ayre Sports Centre, with a new programme starting on the Monday 4th November. There are two session each week on a Monday and Thursday from 16:30. To book your families free place call now on 01253 882105

No comments: