Tony Burke knew what it was like to be overweight as a child. So several years ago, he began working on a new program that would tackle all aspects of childhood obesity-from fitness to nutrition to emotional health.
Now, he and his wife Nicki Klinkhamer have partnered with numerous local hospitals to offer a free eight-week program geared towards kids 8-14 struggling with unhealthy weight.
ProActive Kids includes 45 minutes of fitness and 45 minutes of lifestyle education on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Fridays, the entire family is invited to join the program to learn more about fitness, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, Klinkhamer says.
"Our big differentiator is lifestyle and the psychological effect of growing up overweight," Klinkhamer says. "We're focusing on body image, coping with feelings and expressing feelings, how to deal with comments made to you. …Then we also do a progressive nutrition program where the dietician does basic education around a lesson and brings in a healthy snack for them to make or try."
The program is offered at various locations throughout the suburbs and continues to expand, Klinkhamer says. It is funded through donations and partnerships with organizations such as Cadence Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield, which keeps the program completely free.
The next sessions of ProActive Kids begin Jan. 28. For information, visit proactivekids.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (630) 681-1558. Children must have a BMI in the 85th percentile or above to qualify for the program. Hospitals interested in being a program site can visit the website or email ProActive Kids.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.