(Oneida, NY – March 2013)  Oneida Healthcare and the Oneida Family Y are teaming up to combat childhood obesity and associated diseases through a program called “Fit Kids of Madison County,”  a collaborative program of fitness and nutrition education for middle school aged children.  The funding for the first year of the project was provided by the Central New York Community Foundation, Inc., Excellus BlueCross BlueShield and the Oneida Healthcare Auxiliary.

“For the past year, leaders from the Madison County Health Department, Oneida Healthcare, Dr Margaret Argentine and the Oneida Family Y have been discussing working together on a way to reduce childhood obesity in our community,” said Hank Leo, CEO of the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley.  “It makes sense for us to collaborate. Oneida Healthcare recognizes that the role of a hospital is not simply to treat illness but to strengthen communities and the philosophy of the YMCA mirrors that.  We also have a very successful Corporate Partnership agreement with the hospital.”

The 16 week program will consist of two sessions, the first session will run from March through June and the second from July through August 2013.

Ten middle school age children have already been identified and referred by their pediatrician or family practitioner.  The participants will engage in a professionally-administered fitness exam, consisting of five components: strength, flexibility, endurance, blood pressure screening and body fat analysis pre-program, mid-program and post-program.  The program will feature Oneida Healthcare clinical staff providing nutritional counseling and educational seminars for the program participants and their families.

Oneida Family Y employee and Certified Personal Trainer, Jennifer Sherwood has worked closely with Oneida Healthcare to design a series of workouts, classes and other rigorous physical activities to plan a strategy for success.  “Childhood obesity is a huge problem that has been, up until recently, ignored,” said Jennifer, “hopefully the program will be a precursor to lifetime fitness.”

CNYCF and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s seed money is making it possible to secure funding for years to come through a process of evidence based outcomes. The Auxiliary’s fundraiser, Harlem Ambassadors vs. Auxiliary Allstars will showcase some of the local heroes out on the basketball court while bringing a positive message of healthy living to our youth. It is scheduled for April 2 at Oneida High School.

“We are so proud to support the “Fit Kids” program,” said Eve Van de Wal, regional president, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “This program can make a real difference in lives of children at risk from obesity-related health conditions, like diabetes and hypertension.”

Joanne Ernenwein, Director of Development Oneida Healthcare Foundation, has been involved in the process from the beginning,

“Hospitals across the country are working to address basic, social and personal needs as a way to improve their communities’ health,” Ernenewein said. “This program is the first of its kind in Madison County and will hopefully provide a template for others to follow in adopting one in their local area. The Oneida Healthcare Foundation has agreed to earmark money annually to sustain the program.”

For more information on “Fit Kids of Madison County” call Joanne Ernenwein at 361-2169 or email jernenwein@oneidahealthcare.org.



By martha

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