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YMCA, Hospital Come Together To Fight Obesity

The YMCA Strong Kids Program is taking aim at a ‘growing’ problem affecting area youth.

The South Boston/Halifax County YMCA is partnering with Halifax Regional Health System (HRHS) to meet the challenge of childhood obesity and to educate children and families to live longer, healthier lives by eating a nutritious diet and getting adequate exercise.

“Participation in the YMCA Strong Kids Program will involve individual counseling sessions dedicated to developing a safe, effective and enjoyable workout program targeting specific needs,” said YMCA Executive Director Marcus Hargrave.  “Education, motivation, physical fitness, weight loss and increased self esteem are a few of the anticipated outcomes.”

Support for the program will go towards transportation, consultation, ongoing maintenance and programmatic implementation over a one-year period, according to Hargrave.

HRHS CEO Chris Lumsden said his organization is proud to support the program.

Lumsden thanked Hargrave for initiating the program to promote health in area youth and is excited to partner with the YMCA.

Hargrave sited alarming statistics which show that one out of every three children in the area are either overweight or obese.

“The YMCA and Halifax Regional will promote best practices in wellness services and build community capacity to prevent and respond to this staggering health threat,” Hargrave said.

“The purpose of YMCA Strong Kids will be to give youth the tools they need to live a longer, happier and more productive life,” Hargrave explained. 

“Currently these youth may not have the proper support to target their needs.”

According to the director, referrals for the program will come from pediatricians, teachers and parents.

“YMCA Strong Kids is a new program,” Hargrave said.  “Since this specific target group – obese youth – is included as part of our mission, it is imperative for our organization to lead Halifax County in addressing this need.”

HRHS Chief of Medical Staff Dr. James Witko said he has had a chance to review the program’s curriculum and is excited by what he’s seen.

“This is an excellent program,” Witko said, noting, “Obesity really hits us here.”

Witko explained eating healthy is often more expensive than eating fast food, but the program will offer tips for eating healthier for less.

The doctor concluded saying, “I’m proud of the Y. They’ve always looked out for fitness, and I’m proud of Halifax Regional for stepping up.”

According to Hargrave, the measurable goals of the program will be weight loss, decreased Body Mass Index (BMI), and lower cost to the community. 

The un-measurable goals will be increased self-esteem, self-assuredness and happiness.