Obesity is more than being overweight. It is an illness that can lead to conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. One program that grew from obesity research conducted at UH presents a three-pronged approach to combating the illness and wraps it in a summer camp called BOUNCE.
“Being overweight isn’t something that can be dealt with just through physical activity alone, by nutrition alone or by counseling alone,” said Stephanie Kellam, program director for BOUNCE. “You have to take it as a whole piece, and then you actually start working your way at it.”
BOUNCE is Behavior Opportunities Uniting Nutrition Counseling and Exercise and targets minority middle school girls in a four-week summer camp. BOUNCE grew from research that found minority populations were most at risk of becoming obese. Kellam says this, coupled with the changes young people experience in middle school, helped them decide to target this population. Girls and their parents participate in activities that are designed to change attitudes and behaviors.
“We do 21 different physical activities such as yoga, spinning and Latin dancing. The Texans football team provides an obstacle course for a day. Guests chefs visit to help prepare easy, healthy meals,” Kellam said. “Additionally, we know that these girls may have had challenges with peers, so we focus a segment on counseling in the form of journaling, scrapbooking, self-esteem classes.”
St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities and Neighborhood Centers are among the sponsors of BOUNCE. Kellam says the program is a lot of fun, but she’s seen it change lives. Young girls who arrive shy and unsure finish the program confident, more secure and happy.
“BOUNCE works in terms of self esteem. BOUNCE works in terms of physical activity levels. You’ll see changes in your waist, in your physical activity level, your overall appearance and most importantly, your overall happiness.”
BOUNCE is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez
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(More information about the program can be found on the BOUNCE website.)