Making healthy choices

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The deadline to participate in a pilot nutrition program created to promote a healthy lifestyle for adolescent girls and their parents or caregivers is drawing near.

BodyWorks, a program designed to help parents and caregivers of young adolescent girls improve family eating and activity habits, will be offered by Mizell Memorial Hospital for the first time in Covington County.

Using the BodyWorks Toolkit, the program focuses on parents as role models and provides them with hands-on tools to make small, specific behavior changes to prevent obesity and help maintain a healthy weight.

Patty Ferman, clinical dietician for Mizell Memorial Hospital in Opp, said the program is desperately in need of participants.

“I began by opening enrollment to students of Opp Middle School. Principal Aaron Hightower has helped me promote the program within the school, but we still have several open slots to fill,” she said.

The 10-week program will begin Thurs., Sept. 18, at 6 p.m. and will continue each week through Nov. 20. Meetings will take place each Thursday from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. in the Wing Conference Room at Mizell.

Parents and caregivers of young adolescent girls countywide, ages 10-12, are invited to enroll in the BodyWorks program, which is designed to help promote a healthier lifestyle for both girls and women.

“Each participating set will receive a package that includes several information packets, a journal to keep track of diet and exercise to review each week, a pedometer and several other small guides for use during the course of the program,” Ferman said. “There is so much information contained in this package.

“Each package also contains a DVD that discusses grocery shopping, cooking and eating together to improve one’s lifestyle and ultimately their health,” she added. “It takes them through a grocery with a dietician who guides them through a typical shopping experience.”

Ferman said she has room for 15 parent/caregiver and adolescent girl sets and, so far, only one set, a mother and daughter, have signed up for the program.

“I am really excited about the program,” Ferman said. “It is pretty much first come, first serve. I will be visiting the principals of each school throughout the county to solicit participation.”

Ferman said the BodyWorks program, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services office on Women’s Health, requires that information collected from each week’s meeting be sent to Atlanta and a firm commitment will be required from each participating set.

“It is wonderful if people want to participate, but we really need individuals who will be dedicated to the program and are willing to commit to the entire 10 weeks,” Ferman said. “Each week provides important information that must be provide to the office of Women’s Health. I am required, due to the federal funding of the program, to report its success each week and the success of the program will determine whether or not I am able to offer it again next year.”

Ferman said the program’s length is based upon studies conducted concerning day-to-day habits and patterns of human behavior.

“It takes approximately 10 weeks, or three months, to change a habit,” she said. “We want participants to do more than attend the meetings. We want them to use this information to positively impact their lifestyle.”

Ferman said the program will also address the emotional issues that may affect the overall mental and physical health of adolescent girls.

“The program has a whole section on emotional eating,” she said. “That section also talks about self-esteem issues. When I speak to kids I explain to them that God made all kinds of people. Some people are tall and some people are short, but all people must be healthy. That is the bottom line. You have to be healthy and you must have self-esteem.”

For more information about or to enroll in the BodyWorks toolkit for healthy girls and strong women, contact Patty Ferman at (334) 493-3541 ext. 421.