“I Choose” program teaches teens ways to prevent chronic disease
A pilot program at Mt. Clemens Community Schools is designed to help teens learn to make healthy lifestyle choices to avoid chronic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The "I Choose" program is based on the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) for adults developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Henry Ford Macomb Hospital's School and Community Wellness team modified the curriculum to be youth-friendly.
"Diabetes is a growing medical concern in the U.S. and we hope this program will be a game changer that can drive long-term positive health outcomes," said Jill Yore, manager of School and Community Wellness at HFMH.
The DPP model is currently used with adults and has drastically changed behavior. Participants received counseling and support on diet, exercise and lifestyle, and reduced their risk of developing diabetes on average by 58 percent.
Yore believes they will see just as encouraging results with the Mt. Clemens students, where about one third of families have a high prevalence of poor health outcomes.
A lifestyle coach specially trained in both diabetes prevention and working with youth leads the program. "We want to empower them to problem solve, overcome challenges and make these changes in their life," said Yore.
Over the school year, students will meet weekly for 16 core sessions to learn about nutrition, stress reduction, behavior modification, good oral health and the benefits of physical activity.
Robyn Ross, a student, said she enrolled because she wanted to try something new. "I want to focus on my future. I enjoyed the exercises in the first class and look forward to more physical activity in future classes."
The second phase of the program, which runs April to September, is designed to reinforce the classroom-based curriculum through hands-on experiences including visits to local farmers' markets, cooking demonstrations, biking, hiking and hearing from motivational speakers.
"We look forward to seeing our students progress regarding their attitudes and decision-making about their health and lifestyle as they continue in this year-long program," said Joe Gibson, principal of Mt. Clemens Middle High Schools. "Our entire staff supports I Choose and appreciates the direct connection between our students' classroom success and them being exposed to healthier lifestyle choices."
The I Choose initiative is funded in partnership with the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC), Michigan Health Endowment Fund and Delta Dental Foundation.
For more information, contact Jill Yore at firstname.lastname@example.org.