The mission of IU Health Bloomington’s G.O.A.L. (Get Onboard Active Living) Program is a powerful one: provide kids and families with the tools and support needed to make positive, life-long changes in the areas of nutrition, fitness, and behavioral habits.
Several months ago, when the team met 13-year old Michael for the first time, they were introduced to a young man not unlike others who had been referred to the program. “He was in middle school, and that can be a tough age for kids,” recalls IU Health Bloomington’s Director of Community Health, Carol Weiss-Kennedy. “He was overweight and very nervous about joining the program.”
From the first moment staff met with Michael, their focus was on his personal engagement to this one-of-a-kind program.
- Staff Selection. Connecting with participants in a way that helps them to overcome apprehension and fear requires careful communication and care. Michael benefited from a hand-selected staff that was chosen not only for their outstanding clinical expertise but also their personable demeanor.
- Coordinated Approach. The G.O.A.L Program emphasizes a team philosophy. They partner with several local organizations (Monroe County YMCA, Bloomington Parks and Recreation, and Indiana University to name a few) and strongly urge participant’s family members to be involved in different activities and learning opportunities throughout the program.
- Ongoing Peer Support. Every fourth week, Michael and other participants took a healthy “fieldtrip” to reinforce key concepts and practices. Michael learned to shop for fresh produce at the local farmer’s market, explored nearby parks, and engaged in exercise with students from Indiana University’s Kinesiology program.
For participants who successfully complete the program with zero absences, an extra perk is offered—an iPod. Unfortunately for Michael, his perfect attendance streak was broken when he missed the final session. Why was he absent that day? He had a mandatory practice with his school’s basketball team. Participating in the G.O.A.L. program not only helped him lose weight and gain knowledge and skills for healthier living, but also boosted his self esteem and confidence to the point where he felt comfortable trying out for the team. “We took a vote and decided that he deserved an iPod anyway,” shared a smiling Weiss-Kennedy.