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Program targets healthy weight

 Nanaimo is one of 15 communities selected for the Mind, Exercise, Nutrition ... Do It! (MEND), a program the City of Nanaimo’s MEND programmer Tara McNeil and recreation coordinator Damon Johnston say focuses on teaching families to live healthy lifestyles. - KARL YU/The News Bulletin
Nanaimo is one of 15 communities selected for the Mind, Exercise, Nutrition ... Do It! (MEND), a program the City of Nanaimo’s MEND programmer Tara McNeil and recreation coordinator Damon Johnston say focuses on teaching families to live healthy lifestyles.
— image credit: KARL YU/The News Bulletin

A free program coming to Oliver Woods Community Centre in the new year will enable youth to be more active and healthier.

Mind, Exercise, Nutrition ... Do it! or MEND, is targeted to children between seven and 13 years who are above a healthy weight.

According to MEND programmer Tara McNeil and city recreation coordinator Damon Johnston, it is not a weight loss program but rather one that helps families make healthy lifestyle choices.

The program will run from Jan. 6 to March 31 with 20 sessions – Mondays, 5 to 7 p.m., and Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Parents or caregivers are required to join their children for the sessions, which are a combination of exercise and lessons on healthy food choices.

“It’s really around setting limits for children with screen time and trying to shift that time into being more active and really giving them the knowledge about what’s in the food that they’re eating and how that impacts their lifestyle and how they live,” Johnston said.

Children will have two hours of exercise a week with activities set up in a circuit-based, activity station type format.

“It’s a lot of play stuff [for children] – that’s the whole idea of it,” McNeil said. “It’s fun, energetic. They’re going to be doing balance, flexibility core work, cardio exercises – it’s just a whole mix and it changes every week,” said McNeil.

She said the program is non-judgmental and a learning process for the family.

“With us as adults, we want to lose weight, whereas with kids, it’s more stabilize your weight as you grow taller and then your weight actually becomes good for your height as an adult,” McNeil said. “There’s no diet approach whatsoever, just balanced healthy eating, so that basically, your weight does stay the same as you grow.”

There will be two information sessions for people who want to register for MEND: one Thursday (Nov. 14) and another on Monday (Nov. 18).

Both take place between 7-8 p.m. at Oliver Woods Community Centre.

The program is paid for by the Ministry of Health and Nanaimo is one of 15 communities in B.C. where it will be offered.

For more information, please call 250-618-1271 or e-mail MEND@nanaimo.ca.

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