When Rod’s wife suggested the family sign up for a healthy living program, he wasn’t sold on the idea. Taking part in MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It!) would involve two-hour sessions twice a week for 10 weeks.
“I was like, yeah right, that’s not happening,” the Langley resident admitted. “I was not interested one bit, and then after two weeks I had to apologize to her and say ‘Listen, this is a great program.’ The information they were giving was really good.”
In fact, Rod’s experience with MEND was so positive that he now encourages other Valleyites to sign up for the free health resource.
“I would totally recommend this course to absolutely everyone.”
While the whole family can take part, MEND’s target demographic is children ages seven to 13. Offered by the Township of Langley’s Recreation, Culture and Parks Division in partnership with the BC Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) and YMCA of Greater Vancouver, the program’s goal is to improve children’s physical activity levels, nutrition and self-esteem. It does this through two-hour sessions that see participants engage in discussions and activities about nutrition and behaviour change for the first hour. The second hour involves continued discussion for parents while the children take part in fun, physical activities.
For Rod’s nine- and 11-year-old sons – who tend to gravitate towards electronics over athletics – the program’s mix of physical activity and discussion kept it interesting and engaging.
“The gym time for the boys was great and the information was (helpful),” he said. “It’s stuff they still use today.”
Some of the most notable lessons for Rod’s family were on portion sizes and the benefits of fruit and veggies.
“I would say it certainly has impacted us,” he said.
According to the program’s initiatives manager at BCRPA, Janet Rerecich, one of the biggest appeals for participants is having the entire family make positive lifestyle changes together.
“So in a way, it’s like a team building exercise for families that brings them together for a common goal,” she said.
YMCA Community Health Director, Elizabeth Sabine says: “Parents report noticing their children trying new healthy foods, building their confidence, and wanting to get out and play more. It’s win-win for everyone!”
Rather than serving as a weight-loss program, MEND is meant to empower children and their families by using a practical, interactive learning approach.
It’s a concept that will have a lasting impact according to Rod, who says his sons can now identify how much sugar is in a certain product and have a better understanding of the importance of physical activity.
“I think it’s more long term and better for you than just a quick fix,” he said.
Developed and tested by some of the UK’s leading experts in child nutrition, child behaviour and exercise, MEND has been aligned with Canadian dietary and policy guidelines. Independent research has shown that the program helps children lose weight, increases their physical activity levels and self-esteem and reduces sedentary behaviours.
“I don’t know if they ever would have.”
The next 10-week session will be held every Monday and Wednesday from 6-8 p.m., at a to-be-determined facility within Langley Township. Registration is limited, so make sure to save a spot for your family.
For more information, call the Willoughby Community Centre at 604-455-8821 or email MEND programmer Margie Ayers at firstname.lastname@example.org
MEND is offered across the Lower Mainland and throughout BC. To find a program near you visit www.bchealthykids.ca.
For Abbotsford call 604-859-3134 ext 5297 or email Brenda Adams at email@example.com
For Chilliwack call 604-792-3371 or email Kristi Van Oostrum at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Maple Ridge call 604-467-7453 or email Kathryn Rieu at email@example.com
For Surrey call 604-320-5826 or email Serena Bring at firstname.lastname@example.org
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