INDEPENDENCE, Mo.--()--Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC), the Independence School District of Missouri, and the YMCA of Greater Kansas City together with the MEND Foundation today announced an important and evidence-backed initiative to improve the health of students and their families in the Independence School District.
“Combatting and preventing childhood obesity is our key focus area as part of our Health Promotions strategy at Blue KC. Our partnership with MEND will help young children and their families develop healthy behaviors and habits to overcome weight issues and live healthier lifestyles”
Recent data from the district studying student BMI (Body Mass Index) shows that 36 percent of its students are above a healthy weight. A child with a high BMI can be at an increased risk of health problems. Research has shown that high BMI predisposes children to developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. In addition, a child with a high BMI has a high likelihood of becoming an overweight adult unless preventive steps are taken early.
To combat this issue, the MEND Foundation, an independent non-profit organization dedicated to improving family health and fitness, offers a healthy lifestyle program called MEND 7-13. MEND stands for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do it! and will first launch in the Greater Kansas City area with the Independence School District. MEND programs will be available free of charge to families, thanks to a generous partnership with Blue KC. The program is a 10 week after-school program offered to children and their families in the Independence School District between the ages of 7 and 13 who are above a healthy weight.
MEND programs help children and their parents learn how to develop behaviors that support sustainable, healthy lifestyles for the entire family. Imagine students and their families touring a grocery store, splashing their way through aqua aerobics or fun-orientated activity games, or learning to create fruit kabobs and new healthy recipes. MEND empowers the children to get healthier for good in a positive way. Following the 10-week intensive program, those taking part are introduced to MEND World, which helps families to continue to build on the healthy eating and physical activity achievements gained during MEND. The Y will lead the healthy and fun physical activities during the program, and will offer the families a known and trusted location for continuing their exercise after the initial part of the programs are over.
The Independence School District is the first school district in the nation to adopt MEND, which has had successes in multiple states and internationally. The MEND Foundation partners with a wide variety of community-based organizations, schools, faith-based organizations and funders to bring MEND’s programs to those who need it most.
Independence Superintendent Jim Hinson says, “While our district has had a preventative focus on health and wellness for years, we know that getting families actively involved is key to creating positive and long lasting change in the health of students. We believe that with family support, MEND can help children create a healthy lifestyle that will last the rest of their lives.”
“Combatting and preventing childhood obesity is our key focus area as part of our Health Promotions strategy at Blue KC. Our partnership with MEND will help young children and their families develop healthy behaviors and habits to overcome weight issues and live healthier lifestyles,” says Dr. Dawnavan Davis, Director of Health Promotions at Blue KC. “We are proud to be a part of the MEND Powered By BlueKC program, and our hope for this initiative is that it yields measurable impact in the Independence School District that ultimately extends to other districts in the greater Kansas City area. We are very excited to serve as a catalyst to move this important work forward, and to support programs that build upon the vast local efforts underway in the childhood obesity arena.” (MEND kicks off in 5 Independence elementary schools (Glendale, Mill Creek, Blackburn, Luff and Three Trails) with back to school and will expand district-wide in the future. Families who are interested should contact: 816-521-5319 for more information.