Chicago Park District June 2012: MEND Healthy Living Program

[Announcer] Parks and programs, accessible for all to enjoy Recreational and fitness opportunities that result in good health and wellbeing

Acting as stewards of our precious environment And fostering partnerships and alliances that promote our parks [Mike Kelly] Chicago parks are your parks I'm General Superintendent and CEO, Mike Kelly Welcome to Chicago at Play

[music] [Instrutor]So you're going to start down low, around your ankles, and then bring it to your knees, and then we're going to go all the way up, and then all the way back down [Announcer] A new program that ♪encourages a healthy lifestyle has some Chicago families "on the mend" [Raquel Maldonado] MEND stands for Mind, Exersise, Nutrition, Do It MEND is a program focused on children ages 7-13 to help them and their families change their lifestyles, making healthier choices, and some good life-changing skills that they can use to be a healthier family [Lisa Carrero] It encompasses exercise and nutrition, which we know are really important as far as having a healthy weight

[Announcer] The MEND program began in the UK, and has come to Chicago through a grant made possible by Blue Cross Blue Sheild of Illinois and the Chicago Community Trust Families meet twice a week to learn new healthy habits for their household [Raquel Maldonado] We are able to teach the families about nutrition, reading labels, also about healthy shopping decisions Also having behavior change decisions within the parents and also for the kids And then also lots of physical activity for the kids

The kids are getting a chance to do games that are not competitive, and everybody gets to enjoy themselves and be active the entire time [ Lisa]If something is low in fat, but high in sugar, it won't be MEND friendly It has to be both low in fat and low in sugar for it to be a MEND friendly food [Lisa Carrero] We do label reading Our main focus there is talking about portion size, which is something a lot of times we think 'oh, this is healthy' but then we look at the portion size and we're eating twice as much

to kind of brainstorm ways that they can be physically active outside of the MEND program, like activities you could do inside, you know Chicago doesn't have great weather We do an hour of class and then an hour of physical activity [Announcer] Why the need for the MEND program in Chicago? [Raquel Maldonado] We have definite serious need for city of Chicago to change some of our lifestyles The rates of children's obesity are going up higher and faster So we want to try to get the kids to understand what healthy choice is, in terms of just a beverage, in terms of a healthy choice in an activity, we want to try to get children to choose doing something a little bit more physically active than stagnant

And we also want our parents to pay attention to the example that they're giving their children [Lisa Carrero] A lot of them have to do with having more processed foods vs home cooked meals So we try to talk to them about easy ways to make things at home We try to talk to them about healthier snacks, because that's another big issue Snacks, beverages, is another really big issue, a lot of sugary beverages, so we talk to people about having water rather than sugary beverages

[Announcer] Call 312-742-4740 to find out if your family qualifies for the MEND program [Raquel Maldonado] We want parents that are interested in helping their child change their lifestyle to call us and see if their kids qualify The kids need to have a BMI that is above 26 to qualify for the program, and we also have to make sure they pass a medical exam that approves them to participate [Lisa Carrero] I think it's really good for parents to share their experiences with other parents that are having kind of the same issues, and are dealing with the same things with their kids, so it's been good because there's a nice group dynamic, parents are able to talk to other parents, the kids are able to meet other kids, so it's been really good [Raquel Maldonado] The kids have been enjoying some of the physical activity, and they're family focused activities, so you can have siblings at the program at the same time

And I think for parents that's very important, so that the parents have an opportunity to learn this information, they know their kids are in a safe environment, they know their kids are getting that physical activity So it's very important in our city to get more and more people educated on that, because it's a chain reaction And i f you start to teach your children young, then they'll have those habits for the rest of their lives [music]

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