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WJBD - Local News - Marion County Health Department Starts “Heart Smart for Teens” Program

Marion County Health Department Starts “Heart Smart for Teens” Program

By Will Doolin, WJBD News

The Marion County Health Department is implementing a new health program for teen girls in an effort to get them active and to start making healthy choices.  The health department, through the state department of public health, is implementing the “Heart Smart for Teens” program for 6th and 8th grade girls at Franklin Park Middle School in Salem.

Health department health educator Tara Dewitt says the nine-week program is made up of three-components:  physical activity, educational piece, and healthy snack.  “What we're trying to teach them and what's important is how to eat nutritious foods and to be physically active every day because teens need to be active sixty-minutes every day or for most days out of the week.  So we're going to help them set and achieve some goals.  We're going to teach them what osteoporosis is and how to build stronger bones, some of the risk factors of heart disease, and we're also going to talk about body imaging and self-esteem”, said DeWitt.  

DeWitt says students will set personal goals in the areas of physical activity, eating more fruits and vegetables, and will be required to complete a Physical Activity and Fruit and Vegetable Log for certain weeks.  They will have several health officials from the community speaking to the students, such as fitness instructor Barbie Ambuehl who will teach the girls a “step-up” routine, Ed Daniels who will teach different types of Karate kicks, and Zumba teacher Gena Farley.  The girls will also receive demonstrations from Salem Township Hospital and the Marion County Health Department.  

DeWitt says they offered the program in 2010 and decided to bring it back again.  “We were able to do a couple classes with the 8th grade girls at Franklin Park, and they loved it.  The physical education loved the fact that they had to try different healthy snacks.  So we're having them try things new and that's kind of a stretch for them, even with the physical activity.  Even if you don't think you can do it, try it.  You might find a new talent; you might find something that you like.  So that's kind of a stretch for them, and maybe they can see that they can have a healthy lifestyle”, said DeWitt.  

DeWitt says the current classes are in the morning.  They will be offering a nine-week afternoon class in the spring.  

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