Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yoplait/General Mills funds second year of Kettunen Center health and fitness awareness initiative

Kettunen Center received a $10,000 grant from the Yoplait-Colombo Division of the General Mills Foundation, of Reed City, for a second year of the center’s health and fitness awareness initiative.

Kettunen Center’s Multicounty Health and Fitness Awareness Initiative provides programs, events and workshops that promote good nutrition and physical fitness to youth and adults who live in Osceola, Mecosta, Wexford and Lake counties, specifi cally targeting at-risk youth and families.

“We are very thrilled that Yoplait of Reed City has provided a second year of funding for programming at Kettunen Center,” said Andrea Grix, Kettunen Center educational program coordinator.

“For a second year, the funding from Yoplait will reduce the cost for more than 750 local area youth to enjoy environmental and outdoor education programs at Kettunen Center. In addition, this grant offers a new multicounty community program called BodyWorks! This program offers an interactive and fun way for moms and daughters to learn together about healthy eating and physical fitness.”

BodyWorks: A Toolkit for Healthy Girls and Strong Women is an obesity prevention program developed by the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to help parents and caregivers of adolescent girls improve family eating and exercise habits. The toolkit provides information, materials and strategies on how to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Wexford, Mecosta and Osceola County MSU Extension are each hosting local workshops based on the BodyWorks program.

In Osceola and Mecosta counties, a one-day BodyWorks workshop was held this spring for participants to learn about healthy eating, serving sizes and fast food; physical activities; meal planning and shopping; cooking and eating together; media influences; and looking at your environment.

Wexford County is hosting a six-week BodyWorks program that began March 5.

“BodyWorks is a program with the overall goal of reducing overweight and obesity in adolescent girls,” said Shari Spoelman, Wexford County MSU Extension educator. “It is based on research that girls will learn from and model what is going on at home.”

Each week’s two-hour session includes a lesson, mostly done by guest speakers, an experiential activity and preparation of healthy food.

“BodyWorks comes with a toolkit that includes a recipe book. After each lesson, we prepare one of the recipes and the participants get a chance to taste it.

“We’re lucky to be working with Kettunen Center staff members. We have four educators on staff for each session,” Spoelman said. “It’s nice to have all of the community partners. We’ve had some amazing presenters,” she said.

Presenters have included a local yoga instructor, a registered dietician,a nurse practitioner and an exercise specialist from the Mercy Hospital Cadillac cardiac care and rehabilitation program.
“We try to introduce the participants to various types of activities,” Spoelman said.

At the end of the program, participants will be provided with gift cards to purchase groceries to prepare a dish to pass from the cookbook. Their families are invited to come to that session, celebrating all that the participants have learned.

“I think there are several benefits to the program. Participants are learning skills they can take
back to their home so that their whole family benefits,” she said.

“It goes back to the research – if children see their parents being active, the children will grow up to be more active. This course gives us skills and ways that we can benefit from,” Spoelman said.

The BodyWorks program will conclude with an event at Kettunen Center for participants from all three counties on May 16.

In 2008, the first year of Kettunen Center’s health and awareness initiative, 1,191 youth and adults were reached through various programs at Kettunen Center, including 4-H TRACKERS school field trips, Family Fun Days, 4-H Learning Science through the Arts Camp, a Women’s Wellness Retreat and several other educational opportunities.

Originally published in the Winter/Spring issue of Vantage.

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