Health Aware: Fitness program for kids builds confidence and muscle
Submitted January 7, 2013 4:08PM
Thomas Blair, 11, and his mother Kathy plan menus from their favorite "Cooking Light" cook books. They learned about menu planning in the ProActive Kids program. | Submitted
Updated: February 10, 2013 6:13AM
The next session of the free eight-week kids fitness program ProActive Kids will begin Jan. 28 at the Edward Health & Fitness Center in Woodridge.
PAK is available to DuPage County boys and girls, 8 to 14 years old, who are referred by a physician and meet certain criteria.
The goal is to help kids lead an active lifestyle that includes smart food choices and a healthy dose of self-confidence. PAK is the creation of the ProActive Kids Foundation, founded by Wheaton resident Tony Burke, who was obese as a child.
Monday and Wednesday sessions run from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Both days include 45-minute workouts and lifestyle coaching.
Workout goals include building muscle and decreasing body fat and BMI (body mass index). The lifestyle sessions teach the kids effective coping and communication skills, and help improve self-esteem.
Family members are required to participate in the Friday sessions, which run from 4 to 6 p.m. and feature nutrition lessons as well as lifestyle and fitness segments.
Thomas Blair, 11, of Naperville, completed the PAK program at the Edward Health & Fitness Center in November. Mom Kathy Blair says Thomas found the lifestyle discussions especially helpful, such as the one about how to deal with bullies that featured an exercise using jelly beans.
“The leaders suggested thinking of bullying comments like they were bad-flavored jelly beans,” Kathy says. “If you bite into one that tastes really bad, you spit it out and don’t let it become part of you. But if a jelly bean tastes good you savor and swallow it. They encouraged the kids to reject bad comments and choose to absorb only those that are good for their souls.”
“We’re pleased to sponsor PAK sessions three times a year in partnership with the ProActive Kids Foundation,” says Edward Hospital’s Cheryl Eck. “We see how the program positively affects the health and well-being of kids and their families.”
Kathy Blair reports her son’s improved self-image and positive outlook since completing the program have helped him at home and at school.
“He manages stress better and things are calmer at home,” she says.
Thomas made a good friend in PAK and sees him regularly outside the program.
“It’s been great for Thomas to spend time with other kids dealing with the same body image and social challenges,” Kathy says. “His goal is to stabilize rather than lose weight since he’s still growing. But we were glad to see improvement in his body mass index and muscle-to-fat ratio.”
She says Thomas isn’t the only one benefiting from the program.
“We’re making an effort as a family to be more active,”she says. “We went to one of AK’s Take Action follow-up sessions at the Bulls-Sox Academy in December, and I bought the Nike Training for Kinect for us to use at home. Thomas and his friend from PAK plan to take a dodge ball class together at the park district. I think that will help keep him motivated.”
PAK also offers three eight-week sessions at sites in Oak Lawn, Wheaton and West Chicago. To participate in a PAK program a child must have a BMI at or above the 85th percentile. To learn more, call 630-681-1558 or visit www.proactivekids.org.
Health Aware is courtesy
of Edward Hospital.