Tween obesity is at an unprecedented level with the number of overweight adolescents tripling since 1980.
The ProActive Kids program works with tween and their families to fight obesity and help tweens become healthier. A free program open to kids ages 8-14 who have a BMI in the 85th percentile and above, ProActive Kids has helped over 200 children and their families.
The program aimed at tweens in the Chicago suburbs is unique. "These programs are hard to come by, especially free ones like ProActive Kids, and frankly, there are few in existence that focus on kids who are already struggling with unhealthy weight."said Nicki Klinhamer, Executive Director of the ProActive Kids Foundation.
The program treat the whole child and focuses on fitness, nutrition and lifestyle. ProActive Kids works with families to implement at home what the tweens are learning at ProActive Kids. "When families call to inquire about the program, I am very blunt about the need to host a healthy environment at home utilizing our program principles and lessons," said Klinhamer.
Tween attend session three times a week, and parents and other family members join them once a week. Often times, it is more than just the tweens who benefit from ProActive Kids. Klinhamer said, "I have countless stories of siblings who also got in on the action and education and started eating and living better as a result of just attending on Fridays."
"Parents need to find the right mix of activities to keep their kids active (sports, personal fitness, gym class, extracurricular classes like karate and dance, playing outside at home, etc.). It's as important as their grades in school and wearing their seat belt... and we need to elevate that importance on a national level!" said Klinhamer
"We see [parents] pay for all sorts of instrument lessons, lavish birthday parties, eating out, and other events/activities when their children are truly struggling with weight and they need to place some investment there," she added.
ProActive Kids hosts 3 sessions per year and each session lasts 8 weeks. This September they will enroll 60 tweens across the three sites in Wheaton, Woodridge and West Chicago. There are no residency requirements and we have had kids come far and wide to attend programs. "Our goal is to expand across Chicago," Klinhamer said. Enrollment information can be found here.