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Published on December 08, 2016

Gundersen program teaches families to make healthier choices

Gundersen Health System is helping children and families in our community make healthier lifestyle choices with the Family LEAP (Learn, Eat, Active Play) Program.

Family LEAP Program is for children, ages 8-12, and their families. Classes are held at the Healthy Living Center, at the Dahl Family YMCA in La Crosse and include a combination of medical supervision, behavioral health education/support, nutrition therapy and exercise.

Goals of the program include:

  • Improve eating habits
  • Increase acceptance of fruits and vegetables
  • Increase daily activity
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Achieve healthier weight for children
  • Improve health of the whole family

"This program is unique not only for Gundersen but for our entire region," explains Laura Marchiando, MD, Gundersen Family Medicine/Bariatrics physician, who provides medical oversight of the program. "It is designed to motivate children to make healthier choices for a lifetime of better health. Families will be involved in every aspect of the program."

Other program perks include:

  • Rolling admission so families can start at any time
  • Group therapy and individual sessions
  • Childcare available at no cost for young children while families are participating in the program
  • Free family Y membership during the first three months of the program; opportunity to continue that membership after three months, at a discounted rate if necessary

Thanks to a $4,000 grant from the La Crosse Community Foundation, Gundersen is able to offset the cost of the program for the next 12 children who enroll.

"We are grateful for the La Crosse Community Foundation for recognizing this program which is helping us address the growing obesity epidemic in our community. Their generous support will make it more affordable for kids and their families to participate," says Kris Edwards, program manager, Gundersen Pediatrics.

To learn more, talk to your child's primary care provider. A referral is needed to begin.

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