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CHANGE for Children

C.H.A.N.G.E. for Children (Commitment to Healthy Attitudes in Nutrition, Growth, and Education) was started by Goldsboro Pediatrics in partnership with the Goldsboro Family YMCA and the Wayne County Health Department to address the increasing number of children battling with obesity in Wayne County.

The bulk of the program takes place at the Goldsboro Family YMCA, beginning every September after the onset of the new school year, and lasting for 12 weeks. The children that participate are most often referred by their doctors, school counselors, or school nurses as potential candidates who would benefit from the program. After receiving parental permission, the enrolled children participate four times a week in activities that promote exercising and eating healthy. During a typical class, C.H.A.N.G.E. children might go swimming, play dodge ball or basketball, or venture off the Y’s campus for a fun night of roller skating. Once every three weeks, the program holds a Family Night during which the parents and siblings of participants come to take part in the program and bring a healthy snack along with them.

In addition to the physical portion of the program, there is a nutritional portion designed to promote wholesome eating habits. Dieticians meet with parents and children separately to teach them about the importance of filling their bodies with nutritious foods. Parents are given tips on how to prepare meals in the home that are low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium while children are taught to eat appropriate portion sizes and partake in healthier snacks. Children are also evaluated by a medical professional to check for risk factors for obesity, such as diabetes or high cholesterol.

Perhaps one of the most desired effects of the C.H.A.N.G.E. program is to not only help children to learn the importance of exercising and healthy eating, but to teach them about self-worth and improve their overall self-esteem. Often the children enrolled are those who, because of their weight, are self-conscious and reluctant to interact with their peers. During the activities of the C.H.A.N.G.E. program, efforts are made to ensure that each participant feels respected and highly regarded by their peers. For example, during team sports, teams are not chosen by individuals calling out names, to avoid anyone feeling like they were “chosen last.” Rather, each child holds up on of their elbows, and those with matching elbows are on the same team. In addition, when playing sports when one might be deemed “out,” no one is ever really out. Instead, the child does five jumping jacks or some other exercise before returning to play.

The overall objective of C.H.A.N.G.E. is not necessarily to help enrolled children to lose weight, but rather to facilitate certain lifestyle changes in regards to exercise and nutrition that these children will be able to take with them throughout their lives. The cost of the entire 12 week program, including all of the activities that are done, is $75. It is open to members of the YMCA, as well as non-members.

To find out more about this program, contact Dr. Christopher Griffin of Goldsboro Pediatrics at (919) 734-4736 or Ms. Lisa Weston of the Goldsboro Family YMCA at (919) 778-8557.

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