[Guest Post] I Feel Like A Proud Father
This is a guest post by Dave Tilstra, M.D.
Pediatrician Dave Tilstra, MD, provides leadership and strategic direction as the president of CentraCare Clinic. Dr. Tilstra also is on the BLEND Board of Directors and was instrumental in creating and launching BLEND.
I was there at the “birth” of BLEND on July 25, 2006. Like any expectant father, I had big dreams for my little one. BLEND was going to change the world and reduce the epidemic of childhood obesity.
Those early days were rough. We walked the floors at night working out the details of how we were going to get medical professionals, policy makers, educators, health care advocates, and parents committed to improving the health of children in the St. Cloud area.
In the beginning…
Soon, our “baby” BLEND started to sit up. We reached out to child care providers, who are in a unique position to support healthful eating and promote physical activity among young children. “BLEND Beginnings,” a nutrition and physical activity program, was created to assist child care providers to build environments for young children that support the increased consumption of healthy foods and promotes more opportunities to engage in physical activity.
Entering the crawling stage, BLEND engaged health care professionals in the prevention, assessment and treatment of overweight and obese children by promoting the 5-2-1-0 Wellness Program. 5-2-1-0 is designed to encourage smart eating and physical activity for children and families. The concept focuses on making changes in nutrition and physical activity that can be both healthy and enjoyable.
BLEND’s Medical Committee, comprised of physicians from CentraCare Clinic, Sartell Pediatrics, St. Cloud Medical Group, Health Partners Central Minnesota Clinics and Williams Integracare Clinic, have developed tools for health care providers to use in their office to address the issues of childhood obesity, which includes materials for both patients and providers.
Walking came next. BLEND made it a priority to engage community members, decision makers, and schools in discussions to create environments and policies that sustainably support active living. By supporting programs like Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School, the BLEND coalition works to increase opportunities for kids to be physically active, both in- and out- of school, and to create new opportunities for families to move together.
BLEND Walk-A-Thons, just like Safe Routes to School and Complete Streets, encourages kids to be active in- and around- schools – and, during the school day. BLEND works with area schools to promote and adopt healthy fundraisers like walk-a-thons and 5K/1K events. By choosing these active fundraisers – rather than the sale of unhealthy food products – schools are making a positive contribution to children’s health and spreading excitement about being active.
Early on, BLEND walked hand-in-hand with schools to learn and grow – developing a walk-a-thon “how-to” guidebook along the way. Now, with 19 local elementary, middle and high schools implementing healthy “active” fundraising events, it’s no surprise schools are finding tremendous success in this low-cost, all-inclusive fundraising opportunity.
Like all children, walking quickly turned into running. BLEND launched the NuVal® Nutritional Scoring System in eight St. Cloud area stores in October 2010 in partnership with Coborn’s Inc. and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. Under the NuVal® System, foods are graded on a scale from 1 to 100. The higher the number, the more nutritious the food is overall. Now, the NuVal® System is available in Sartell – St. Stephen Schools and Coborn’s, Hy-Vee, Lunds and Byerly’s throughout Minnesota.
Learning to ride a bike (with a helmet, of course) was memorable. The BLEND Bike Parade is now called Kick It In Gear Bike Event and is part of the Bernick’s Family Fitness Series organized by the St. Cloud Area Family YMCA. The YMCA, in an effort to improve the health and wellness of our community, is promoting this family friendly series to provide fun, education, and activities all year round. Following the Y’s mission of inclusiveness, every family will have equal opportunity to participate in the Bernick’s Family Fitness Series.
The training wheels came off and the Fit Kids Club was formed.The BLEND Fit Kids Club Series provides opportunities and incentives for youth 14 and younger to remain active throughout the summer. By encouraging participation in endorsed race events, like Earth Day Run, BLEND’s goal is to give children and families the opportunity to try something new, pass on the idea that exercise is fun, provide a sociable setting, and reward children for positive behavior. In return, by promoting daily exercise in childhood, the tone is set for a lifetime of physical activity and improved health.
I am very proud…
The saying that it takes a village to raise a child is appropriate when it comes to BLEND. It took community support to help BLEND grow to be successful.
Looking back at the milestones in the life of BLEND, I can’t believe how quickly time passes. My little baby is going to be seven. I couldn’t be more proud.
Dr. Dave Tilstra
President of CentraCare Clinic
BLEND Birthday Celebration – Contest #4
To enter, you will need to read the blog and make a comment. Tell us your BLEND story – your favorite BLEND moment – or, how BLEND has made a positive impact on you, your family, your school, or your community. We look forward to reading your comments!
If you missed any of the other contests – you still have time to enter them. Learn more about our weeklong celebration and contests, here!