Innovative fitness program
looks for young recruits
(and their parents)
[This story originally appeared in
the May 5, 2008 issue of The Athens News]
Are you interested in feeling better?
That is the question the
organizers of an upcoming summer fitness program are asking area
parents and their children. Enrollment is underway for Take Action
2, a program that can help participants lead a healthier life.
Take Action 2 is a
multidisciplinary, community-based lifestyle program developed to
address childhood obesity. After a successful pilot program last
year, the program is expanding to include additional participants in
its second year.
Program organizers are
looking for children six to 17 years of age, along with a parent, to
take part in the program. There is no age limit for parents. Sign-up
takes place now through June 1 to gather a total of 80 participants
on a first come, first serve basis. Parents may enroll more than one
child, but each child must have a parent or guardian participating.
Participants will attend
two-hour sessions two times per week. The program starts June 16 and
concludes Aug. 23. Participants must commit to the full program.
Dr. Jay Shubrook,
an assistant professor of family medicine at Ohio University’s
College of Osteopathic Medicine, is coordinator of the program.
Co-leaders are pediatrician Dr. Andrew Wapner and Tom Murray,
director of HeartWorks, the cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation
program at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital. OU dietetics graduate
student Melissa Lustic is the on-site program coordinator.
The program is designed to
teach healthy lifestyle choices through a variety of activities.
“One hour of the program will be filled with supervised play or
exercise, depending on age,” Shubrook said. “For the kids we’ll have
the Dance, Dance Revolution and games, such as kick ball. It will be
in the Athens Community Center so participants can use the pool and
The second hour will be used
for classroom study on healthy living and nutrition. Parents and
children will “flip-flop”—while one group exercises, the other will
be in class.
“Typically kids don’t want
long lectures, so they’ll have fun educational activities during
their class time, such as learning games and computer programs,”
“For it to be successful we
need people to commit to attending two times a week all summer,” he
said. “Last year we did this on a smaller scale, with 25 kids as a
pilot project. Typically, in these programs, there’s a high drop out
rate, but we had drop outs only in the first week.”
The focus audience of the
program is overweight children, and they are who the organizers are
looking for. Parents or children who have health problems may be
accepted, as long as their physicians approve of their
“It’s important their
doctors know about (program participation) and think it’s
appropriate,” Shubrook said. “With their permission we’d like to
share results with their physicians. If they say we can, we will
send letters to their doctors, as well as their children’s doctors.
We want to develop healthy habits that will last forever and will
keep them healthy forever, so we want it to be as seamless as
possible with their health care team.”
Those considering the
program do not need to worry about their level of fitness. All
activities will be individually assigned so participants can
exercise at their own fitness levels. All exercise will be
supervised by an exercise physiologist or athletic trainer.
Physicians will also be present.
“Actually we will give them
an exercise prescription based on their rate of fitness,” Shubrook
said. “We don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable.”
Organizers are working to
provide incentives for participation. Though arrangements are not
complete, they hope to provide $10/week gas vouchers, Wal-Mart
cards, iPod and exercise equipment vouchers, bowling passes and
other incentives. Additionally, they are trying to secure
four-times-a-week passes to the community center, so participants
can make use of the facility outside of class.
Shubrook said the children
who participated last year had a lot of fun while becoming
healthier. “The most consistent comment we had from parents last
year was how their kids just blossomed during the program and how
much fun they had and how many new friends they made,” he said.
“We’ve been in contact with them and many of them are still best
friends with the kids they met.”
Though the program is a lot
of fun, there’s a serious reason for its existence. “There is a
rising problem with childhood obesity in this country, and this area
is disproportionately affected,” Shubrook said. “For many people the
community center is too expensive or too far away.”
One of Shubrook’s
specialties is diabetes. He said it is on the rise in this country.
Since diabetes can have serious consequences, it is important to
"One in three Americans born
in the year 2000 will eventually develop diabetes. Those are today’s
eight-year-olds," Shubrook said. “And the numbers are even higher
here. If this program can help prevent it, that would be great.”
To enroll in the program, or
for more information, call Shubrook at (740) 594-2416 or e-mail