Health Sciences Assistant Professor Shauna Burke couldn’t be happier some of last year’s participants in a children’s summer day camp are unable to attend this year.
Shauna Burke, lead researcher for the Children’s Health and Activity Modification Program, is looking for 30 families to participate in a summer camp for overweight children ages 10-12 years old. The goal is to decrease risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Burke is lead researcher for the Children’s Health and Activity Modification Program (CHAMP), a lifestyle intervention for obese children at risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Last year, Burke held the first CHAMP summer program for 30 youth aged eight to 14 years old with a body mass index greater than the 97th percentile for their age and gender.
“Some families no longer fit the criteria,” says Burke with a smile.
Although still analyzing data from the first year, she sees this as a sign of success.
“We have really seen some positive changes,” she says. “The results are extremely promising.”
Burke is now recruiting 30 families for the next summer program to be held Aug. 4-29 at the YMCA Centre Branch in London. With a narrowed age group, Burke is targeting overweight children aged 10-12 years old.
The research is testing a four-week intervention program designed to increase physical activity levels and to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Overweight and obese children are at an increased risk for developing the disease.
“Hopefully during childhood behaviours are more amenable to change,” says Burke. “Tackling this issue now is an effective way of reducing their risks in the future.”
Participants take part in physical activities, and nutrition and educational components. Youth benefit from social support, increased self-esteem and mentoring.
But just as important is increasing overall healthy behaviours of the family.
Family members are invited to attend educational sessions on Saturdays. Free child care is available during these sessions.
“If the family is not committed and on board, it is difficult for the child to make the changes,” she says. “We know we can change certain behaviours during the program, but the real focus is strengthening parenting skills.”
Families are offered post-intervention support, or “booster sessions,” every two months. This allows them to motivate each other in a group session, set goals, listen to guest speakers, take part in physical activities and discuss strategies to overcome barriers.
Although weight-loss is often an outcome of the program, it is not the main goal.
“We are not just focusing on weight and physical activity … we are focused on the big picture,” says Burke. “Really, what this camp is about is promoting self-esteem and healthy behaviour.”
Participants sought Who: Overweight children 10-12 years old
What: Summer program runs Aug. 4-29 at the YMCA Centre Branch
Cost: $200 per family includes transportation, one-month family Y membership, field trips and activities. Bring your own lunch.
Times: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; weekend family education sessions Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact: Shauna Burke, 519-850-2309 or e-mail Erin Pearson at email@example.com.