Thursday, April 24, 2014

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New program aims to lead children to a healthy lifestyle

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TWC News: New program aims to lead children to a healthy lifestyle
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The MEND program at the East Communities YMCA works to help kids and their parents take the first steps towards a healthy lifestyle.

MEND student, ten-year-old Calvin Francis, played a game at the YMCA Saturday. All the kids chased each other and tried to capture all the flags that hung from their waists.

While the activity was just pure fun for the kids involved, it also served as a great source of exercise for the youngsters.

MEND stands for mind, exercise, nutrition and do it. It's an interactive program for kids and their parents who are looking to live a fit lifestyle.

Calvin, along with about 20 other families, graduated from the program Saturday.

MEND is aimed to teach kids how to make the right decisions about healthy living.

"It's not a diet program per say. It's learning skills on how to make healthy choices," Co-Director of the Dell Center Steve Kelder said.

The MEND students spend some time in the classroom, the gym and even make a trip to grocery store.

Every MEND participant gets what's called a MEND detective card. It is a secret weapon for picking out nutritious choices at the grocery store.

Calvin said he enjoyed helping his mom and dad pick out food at the grocery store. He's also excited at noticing his body is transforming.

"The thing that I am most proud of is that I am getting skinnier and skinnier every day," Calvin said.

His parents are pleased their son is developing skills that will stick with him for life.

"Building up that skill and being able to read the nutrition and drill down see what's there. That's going to be a really good ongoing lifestyle," Calvin's father Robert Francis said.

The MEND program is bilingual and will start a new session in January at select YMCA locations in Austin.

It's open to the public and free thanks to grant money from the St. David's Foundation.

Families in the program will be monitored for at least another year upon completion of the 10 week program.

Information collected will be used to determine the long term success of the program.

For more information on the program click here.

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