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Katie and Candance Drury

Family LEAP Program: 'This is an investment in us!'

Katie Drury, of West Salem, is not the first and won't be the last to admit life as a family is busy. So, when her 9-year-old daughter, Candace, was referred to a 12-week weight management program called Family LEAP (Learn, Eat, Active Play), it would have been easy to say no. Instead, the Drury's cleared their calendar on Tuesday nights.

"This [program] is an investment in us!" says Katie, a full-time mother and director of Nursing Services for School District of Onalaska. "We were referred to the program as a result of Candace's cholesterol levels and body mass index (BMI)."

Co-led by Gundersen Health System and the La Crosse Area Family YMCA, this unique program helps motivate children, ages 7-16, to make healthier choices for a lifetime of better health. It also addresses one of the major challenges facing parents—finding time for healthy meals and exercise.

"There is something that everyone can learn from this program," says Katie. "Whether it be how to improve health or how to find time to spend as a family being active. We still use the hunger scale, and Candace has been able to teach her younger sister about it, too."

Classes are divided into two parts: an hour of exercise in the gymnasium followed by classroom time to discuss barriers to healthy living and prepare healthy recipes.

Children and families learn strategies to:

  • Set healthy goals and achieve them
  • Reach a healthier weight
  • Improve eating habits
  • Increase daily activity
  • Manage feelings and emotions

"I like how I got to work out with my parents and how I got to learn about healthy foods and how I got to make them," shares 9-year-old Candace.

Since completing the program, Candace's BMI has improved, and her cholesterol is now normal.

"This has been a really big success and celebration for us," says Katie, "because we have all been able to take what we learned and put it to use."

To learn more about the Family LEAP Program, call (608) 775-3092 or visit An initial clinic visit is required prior to enrolling and is not included in the cost of the program. All families are welcome, regardless of where they receive healthcare.

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