Getting more children to embrace physical activity is a key factor in reducing the nation’s near-epidemic problem of childhood obesity. That’s why Bellin Health and the Green Bay Public School District created the Thrive to be the Best You program.
Thrive encourages healthy living and exercise among elementary school-age children. The program has been instituted as a pilot program in two Green Bay-area schools – Chappell and Kennedy elementary schools. Both schools were selected because of their higher poverty levels compared to other schools within the school district.
“Thrive challenges kids to eat healthier and learn to establish healthier lifestyles while they’re still at a very impressionable age,” said Amy St. Laurent, director of Family Programs & Services at Bellin Health. “It’s much more of a challenge to successfully teach them these things when they’re already at the high school level.”
Thrive helps more than just the children.
“Our partnership has helped the staff at the schools become aware of their own eating habits and has even led to the creation of fitness programs for staff,” St. Laurent said. “Also, and probably more importantly, parents are becoming engaged and participating in wellness activities. That’s a plus in this fight to reduce childhood obesity. Support at home means everything.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the past three decades the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11.
“With more than two-thirds of Americans being overweight or obese and the alarming rise of childhood obesity in the U.S., any initiative or partnership that we can take part in that exposes kids to the benefits of healthy and active living is worth it,” St. Laurent said.