Ochsner has embarked on an ambitious project to transform the health and wellness of our community, using schools as the focal point of our interactions. Research has proven that many chronic health problems, such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension, are primarily caused by lifestyle choices. In order to reduce chronic disease in our community, we need to change the choices and behaviors of our children and their families through exercise, nutrition and promotion of preventative health behaviors. Change the Kids, Change the Future™ is an overarching philosophy guiding Ochsner’s work in this area. By working to alleviate the cause instead of the symptoms, we can affect meaningful, lasting change the health and wellness of our community.
A State and Nation in Crisis
- Louisiana ranks at the bottom among other states in the nation in all health indicators: diabetes, hypertension, obesity.
- Adults in Lousiana rank the highest in the country, with 34.7% of it's population identified as being obese.
- Disease caused by diabetes, hypertension and obesity is widespread and will only continue to get worse if the next generation does not intervene.
- In 2009, Obese adults paid on average $3,236 more than their normal counterparts in medical bills.
- Childhood obesity is estimated to cost $14.1 billion annually in direct healthcare expenditures.
- The traditional model of healthcare in the United States must change from disease management to preventative health for children and families.
Children in Crisis
- At 21.1%, Louisiana has the 4th highest rate of overweight and obese youth, ages 10-17.
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.
- The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2012. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents aged 12–19 years who were obese increased from 5% to 21% over the same period.
- In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.
- Four out of five children (80%) that are overweight at ages 10-15 will be obese adults at age 25.
Change the Kids, Change the Future™ is a fully integrated approach in the schools that encompasses education and lifestyle changes for students, staff and families to improve the health of the next generation. The program focuses on nutrition, exercise and healthy eating habits, all of which set the stage for children's ongoing behavior. Using our expertise in research and academics, we can also track the initiative's outcomes. We also have a public policy impact through advocacy efforts.
Ochsner has partnered with Jefferson Parish Public Schools to improve the health and wellness of students, teacher and staff. As a pilot for Ochsner's Change the Kids, Change the Future™ campaign, this program is the first of its kind for the hospital.
Ochsner and Jefferson Parish Public Schools have created on-site clinics for students, teachers, and staff at Bonnabel High School in Kenner and John Ehret High School in Marrero. Ochsner staffs a nurse practitioner five days a week and a pediatrician four hours a week. The clinics also provide their patients with full-time social workers. As fully-- functioning medical offices, the clinics are able to see patients who walk in or schedule an appointment for a variety of medical and psychological needs.
Ochsner's Elmwood Fitness Center and Kenner Hospital have teamed up to offer a variety of programs and services for students, teachers and staff. Elmwood Fitness Center's "Biggest Loser" program debuted for the school's teachers. Ten teachers lost a combined total of 224 pounds in eight weeks. Through the Military Training program, 15 students increased their strength performance by more than 40 percent in four weeks. In addition to fitness programs, Ochsner also offers nutrition seminars and medical screenings to teachers and staff. Plans for the 2009-2010 school year include a partnership with Bonnabel PE teachers and Elmwood Fitness Center to improve the PE curriculum. Ochsner will also provide a stipend for one of the PE teachers to become a certified personal trainer. To improve the school's nutrition, Ochsner and Bonnabel will work to make the snacks and culinary class meals healthier for students and staff.
As an outgrowth of the Humana Grant (see below), Student Wellness Committees were created at six Jefferson Parish Schools. The committees comprise students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members. Using tools from the Healthy Schools Program at the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the Wellness Committees assessed their individual schools and developed and implemented action plans to make their schools a healthier place to learn and work.
To further expand the Change the Kids, Change the Future™ program, Ochsner has received generous grants from the Humana Foundation. With these grants, Ochsner expanded the partnership with Jefferson Parish Public Schools by assessing the health and physical education practices in each of the 85 schools in the system and identifying best practice programs. Additionally, six pilot schools were chosen to implement changes in physical and health education, employee wellness, school lunch programs and health messaging in schools.
HEALThESchools.org allows 4th and 5th grade students in 4 Jefferson Parish schools to gain awareness of their own eating, sleeping, and exercising habits. It aims to develop better lifestyle choices early that will last throughout life and can be passed on to future generations.
Cooking up Healthy Options and Portions is a middle school cooking program designed to teach students the skills necessary to prepare healthy and homemade meals. Each week, students at 2 Jefferson parish middle schools spend 90 minutes preparing a new healthy recipe. Recipes are created to show students that they can still eat their favorite foods and be healthy, just by making a few small changes.
Video courtesy of Jefferson Parish Public School System Communications
Ochsner and the New Orleans Pelicans have partnered to launch the Junior Pelicans Training Camp program designed to teach the importance of physical fitness and nutrition in an effort to fight childhood obesity. The online component of the program features demonstration videos with Pelicans’ players and Elmwood Fitness Center trainers, recipes for healthy, kid-friendly meals and tips to lead a healthy lifestyle. In addition, Ochsner and the Pelicans host Fit for Life Field Days and featuring organized outdoor activities that teach the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
I Can Do It/On the Move
The I Can Do It! childhood obesity initiative began in 2001 at Ochsner's Elmwood Fitness Center as a program to help at-risk children due to obesity and inactivity adopt healthy lifestyles. In 2007, Ochsner launched its customized mobile fitness unit On the Move to travel the region encouraging healthy nutrition and active lifestyles for all children. On the Move includes strength and cardiovascular circuit workouts, nutrition lectures, and heart-healthy cooking classes and demonstrations by Elmwood's executive chef Marc Gilberti, and is designed to teach parents and kids how to incorporate healthier foods and behaviors into their lifestyle. On the Move engages more than 9,000 children per year at area schools during regularly scheduled visits.
Visit Elmwood Fitness Center's website to find out more about On the Move.
Schools can provide a healthy environment for students, teachers and families to learn and experience the benefits of healthy physical activity, good nutrition, and improved wellness. Through a generous grant from the Humana Foundation, Ochsner surveyed 85 schools in the Jefferson Parish Public School System and identified promising practices (methods, techniques and activities) to improve the health and wellness of students, teachers, faculty/staff and families.
Click here to learn more about the promising practices of school wellness that local leaders from Jefferson Parish are doing!