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United Health Services keeps kids healthy

Childhood obesity continues to be a pervasive public health issue, the prevalence of which has continued to increase over the past decades, posing short- and long-term impacts on children’s physical, psychological, social and economic well-being. In 2018, United Health Services revamped their Stay Healthy Kids program to better address childhood obesity in their community.

UHS Stay Healthy Kids is a family-based education program that aims to help school-age children and their families be more active and eat more healthfully. Rather than focusing primarily on weight and body mass index, the program looks to improve the entire family’s lifestyle. Under the Stay Healthy Kids umbrella, UHS staff created the Kids on Track program in which kids and families register at the Vestal Rail Trail for an eight-week, guided running/walking program. This includes small group talks about health and healthy living, and taking the kids out on the trail for running, walking, relays and similar events. Participants are then given a healthy snack and a small gift. Kids keep track of how many miles they travel during program outings, at home with their families and at school and sports, earning mile marker charms as their miles go up. Kids on Track runs twice a year, spring and fall, with about 100-120 kids attending each session.

The second program is called the UHS Junior Culinary Academy. This four-month cooking class for kids meets once a month, creating recipes and teaching kitchen safety. The kids get to eat what they cook and take leftovers home to their families. There are 12 to 15 participants in each four-month session. At the end of the four months, participants keep all the recipes they’ve made together to share with their families, ensuring healthful cooking can continue at home.

For more information, contact Megan Farmer, RN, BSN, coordinator, UHS Stay Healthy Kids, at (607) 763-6722 or megan.farmer@nyuhs.org.