Jacksonville, Florida is among the cities that have a growing epidemic with weight problems among children and teenagers. The community has received grants that help in funding programs to reduce teenage overweight problems and to teach proper nutrition to area teens and children. Nearby St. Petersburg also offers a camp for kids in this area of Florida.
Teenage Weight Problem in Jacksonville
According to statistics from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, up to 32 percent of children in Florida are overweight. The statistics remain the same for teenagers as well. While no camps exist in North Florida for overweight teenagers, several local initiatives are either in place or beginning to help battle the problem of teenage obesity. Blue Cross and Blue Shield is at the forefront of helping to oversee the grants that North Florida has received to help address the growing epidemic in the state.
Teenager Peer Mentors
In North Florida, a program uses teenager peer mediators. This program is called Youth Link Healthy Kids Outreach Program and is geared towards North Florida’s teenagers. The teenagers who are mentors have been trained in healthy eating and teaching exercises to others. These teens work with underprivileged youth. One hundred and 20 Jacksonville teenagers can participate in the program. Research shows that peer educators are more successful in creating long lasting beneficial results when working with youth.
Jacksonville Battles Childhood and Teenager Obesity
Jacksonville has put together a coalition called The Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition. They work with students in Duval County or Jacksonville Florida’s school system in after school programs. The programs will not only target elementary and middle school children, but will be expanded to high school students as well. The after school program will include medical services, education on nutrition, after school exercise programs, and mentoring programs, all targeted at tackling the obesity problem in Northeast Florida.
Camp for Obese Teenagers
The nearest camp for overweight teenagers in Florida is in St. Petersburg, which is a three hour drive from Jacksonville. The camp is held on the campus of Admiral Farragut Academy. The name of the camp is Wellspring. The program includes exercise, nutrition monitoring, nutrition education, counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is targeted at changing the way a teenager thinks about food. The only downfall to the camp is the price. However, some parents feel that their teenagers health is worth the cost. The camp can be contacted at 1-866- 364-0808.
Excerise and Gym Programs
Som area gyms in North Florida offer exercise programs geared towards youth. One of these gyms is the YMCA. They offer a one on one orientation to youth. Actually, the orientation to equipment use and safety is required before any teenager can start using the facility. In addition, some of the branches have a one on one trainer for free. The program is a twelve week individualized program, tailor made for each youth. Every few weeks, the trainer will meet with the youth to discuss their progress and change their goals or exercise routine. At the end of the twelve weeks, any teenager who has achieved their goal, will receive a t- shirt, their name on a plaque in the gym, and a mention in the quarterly newsletter. Continued assistance with trainers is provided after the initial twelve weeks.
All of these program are targeted at creating healthier children and teenagers in the North Florida area. By tackling the problem early, our children can learn hot to develop health lifestyles that will carry them into adulthood.