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Raising Healthy Children: It Takes a Village… but Family First!

June 1, 2012

Family Wellness Activity

Vista Hill SmartCare, as a collaborative partner, recently assisted Palomar Health Community Action Council’s Project21SD Today with their Obesity/Diabetes Screening project in the communities of Ramona, Julian, Pauma Valley and Valley Center.

With parent permission, all 5th grade students were checked via a BMI and blood glucose screen.  All results were mailed to parents, along with educational materials.

Follow-up calls were made to all parents of children who were at risk.  Referrals were made for medical providers and health insurance.  Although the percentages of at risk children continue to remain high in the communities we serve (37% in Ramona, 42% in Pauma Valley/Valley Center, 26.5% in Julian), we are optimistic that with continued knowledge, focus and energy, this trend will turn around.

New this year was a hand-out developed by Palomar Health, How to Talk to Your Child About Weight, with encouraging highlights including “Be Supportive”, “Be a Role Model”, “Avoid Labels”, Help Your Child Eat Healthy” and “Help Your Child Be Active”.

What SmartCare appreciates most about this is both the inclusiveness and the positive approach of this message.

There are national efforts, such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Campaign and Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, and there is community action, including our schools’ gardens and running clubs, but the efforts that begin and continue at home certainly have the biggest and most lasting impact. 

As parents, we can do so much to both set an example and to encourage healthy habits:

making healthy food choices, including our children in food purchases and preparation (maybe even planting a vegetable garden!), scheduling physical activity in family events and outings, limiting T.V. and electronic use.

Just as important is addressing our children’s emotional health by instilling a sense of worth in our children, encouraging them to express themselves, and providing affection and encouragement.  As Integrated Behavioral Health Care providers, we recognize more and more each day how our emotional health and physical health are intertwined in our support of overall wellness.  You may also want to introduce your children to a meditation practice, such as mindfulness; evidence shows that mindfulness can be beneficial for children with chronic health conditions, asthma, stress-related conditions and chronic pain, as well as sleep quality, anxiety and depression.

As summer approaches, SmartCare will once again be encouraging parents and children to participate together in wellness activities and events that support both physical and emotional well-being.  Please contact us or visit our website for our monthly calendars.

Pamela Bryson, LCSW

Mindful Child

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