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Fitness to be highlighted during Carnegie Free Library program in Connellsville

| Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 7:25 p.m.
Nancy Henry | For the Daily Courier
Baby-sitting will be provided at no cost for siblings ages 2-7 during the six Family Fitness Programs that will be held at Carnegie Free Library. Brady Sirochman, 2, is enjoying time in the Children’s Area of the library with his grandmother Cathy Brady (left) and his mother Casey Sirochman (right).

There are many medical problems related to child obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and more in Fayette County.

The longer a child is overweight, the greater the risk for these problems and future medical problems such as heart disease, cancer and complications of diabetes in adulthood.

Carnegie Free Library is offering a six-session program for children ages 8-12 and their parents, caregivers, grandparents or guardians.

“The key to protecting your child from these diseases is making changes in the elementary years to increase fitness. Our program does not promote weight loss for children, but rather making positive health behavior changes now to maintain a healthy weight and help reduce their risk for adolescent and adult overweight or obesity and promote lifelong health,” said Casey Sirochman, library director. This Family Fitness Program is a research-based program developed by Penn State Extension.

The Family Fitness Program was designed to help families partner and make healthy changes together. This cooperation promotes positive, longer-term behavior changes. The program allows participants to learn and get active and play fun games with family and new friends. Time will be spent in the library and at Cameron Court Park right across South Street.

By attending the six sessions, youth and parents will make and taste healthy snacks, learning how to enjoy and increase healthy food choices and improve family meals and cooperation. Participants will receive healthy meal planning ideas and kid-friendly recipes from specialists and nutrition experts. This program teaches participants how to increase fruit, vegetable, whole grain and low-fat dairy consumption and foster positive communication and collaboration on planning and preparing healthy meals and snacks.

The program encourages families to boost physical activity. “You will participate in family games and learn new, fun, physical activities. Set individual and family goals, and win incentive prizes for making them, such as balls, hula hoops, jump ropes, Frisbee flyers, water bottles and fitness bags. Receive fun prizes for making healthy choices. Upon completion, larger prizes are awarded. Increased minutes of activity are encouraged,” said Sirochman.

The childhood overweight rate is growing. Nationally, the rate has doubled in the past 20 years, tripled in the past 30, and now stands at 18 percent. However, the percent of children aged 6-11 who are at-risk for being overweight or are already overweight is now over 30 percent. In Pennsylvania, eighth-graders were measured in 1999-2001, and 35 percent were at risk to be overweight or already overweight. To determine weight status, health professionals use Body Mass Index, which takes into account the child's height and weight and plot on a percentile graph, similar to other child growth charts.

The library program does not promote weight loss for children, but rather making positive health behavior changes now to maintain a healthy weight and help reduce their risk for adolescent and adult obesity and promote lifelong health.

Parents or caregivers and children in grades third through fifth (ages 8-12) must sign up and attend together. The six sessions will be held Wednesdays, 5:45-7:45 p.m. June 12 through July 24, excluding July 3. Babysitting will be provided for siblings ages 2-7 at no cost to program participants. Register now at the library, 299 S. Pittsburgh St. or complete registration online at www.carnegiefreelib.org by June 10. A limited number of families will be accepted.

The program provides parents and caregivers with a four-part newsletter series in the first family meeting that covers family and child fitness to help get you and your family motivated to participate. Each issue contains sections information, family activities, and guidance on nutrition, family communication time management, physical activity and goal setting so that together, parent and child will make healthy life style changes and have fun doing it. The newsletter helps parents support their child's journey to healthy eating and physical fitness.

The Family Fitness Program is sponsored by Community Foundation of Fayette County.

“It's important that we try and maintain our local libraries and support their activities and programs. Through our relationship with the library and offering Buy Local Bucks, we can continue to educate people on the value of buying locally,” said Robert C. Junk, local economy manager with Fay-Penn Economic Council.

Buy Local is an initiative of the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council and will work with the library on the Family Fitness Program. Buy Local will give Buy Local Bucks to be used at the Connellsville Farmers Market to all of the participants at the beginning of the program, at week three and again when they complete the program.

A ‘Vision of Wellness' has been adopted by the Carnegie Free Library, which will promote programs such as the Family Fitness Program.

“The Habit Study, funded by NIH and conducted by University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing researchers, has been recruiting Fayette County residents who have diabetes, investigating patterns of behavior and thinking that impact on ability to maintain adherence to medication regimens and the ability of habit training to improve adherence. The Carnegie Free Library of Connellsville has graciously provided space for researchers to interview and evaluate subjects for the past two years. This generosity has contributed significantly to the science of improving health and quality of life for individuals who are dealing with complex medical conditions and treatment regimens,” said Sirochman.

For more information on upcoming programs at the library call Sirochman at 724-628-1380.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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