Ahh, summertime. Evenings are long, kids are outside and there’s more time for families to spend together, playing, riding bikes or trying new games and sports.
But as the summer holiday season approaches its end, and kids return to school, busy schedules and jam-packed routines can get in the way of families spending quality time together. In addition, the abundance and temptation of screens that kids seem to gravitate to can mean that families spend less time engaging in healthy behaviours like physical activity and family meals.
Programs like MEND, which stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it! Help keep families on track to continuing healthy lifestyles into the fall. This fun, free 10-week program helps children ages 7 to 13 and their families to learn how to make healthy choices together.
Struggling with picky eating? MEND has trained leaders to help parents navigate these issues and learn from each other. Feel like your children have too much screen time? MEND has exercise leaders to help your kids get more active and encourage them to participate in activities away from screens. The program is designed to help families make safe, effective and long-lasting changes by improving physical activity levels, nutrition and self-esteem.
“MEND proved to be a wonderful program in many ways”, shares Rod, a father of two in Langley. “We were given excellent information on nutrition, exercise, psychological behaviour and how our bodies function. The boys, aged 9 and 11, loved the one hour of games and fun in the gym as well as the fun interactive educational activities that started off each meeting.”
Since its launch in BC in 2013, MEND has had great success in reducing children’s screen time, improving healthy eating habits, increasing physical activity and improving self-esteem and confidence. The program is available at YMCA’s and community recreation centres throughout the province, and also offers families free recreation passes. Locations in the Lower Mainland include Vancouver, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Surrey and Langley.
“Now we are very conscious of what we are eating and what we are doing,” continues Rod. “It has been a life changing experience for us. I highly recommend MEND for any family.”
To learn more about the MEND program, locations or how to register, visit www.bchealthykids.ca.