They say word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Talk with 16-year-old Jayda Cloughly, and she will sell you on the value of the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center’s Healthy Me Program.
Cloughly, a Paiute who attends Reno High, joined the Healthy Me Program in October and reduced her body fat by 5 percent.
“I love how the environment is and how every-single staff member is happy to have you and welcomes you as soon as you enter the door,” Cloughly said. “…they push you hard, but once you are finished and start to see results you feel accomplished.”
The Healthy Me Program is collaboration between the Reno-Sparks Tribal Health Center’s medical department, the 3 Nations Wellness Center and the Diabetes Program. It has been designed for pediatric patients and their families.
Currently, there are 28 youth enrolled in the Healthy Me Program and nine have successfully graduated.
Participants, including family members, learn the value and importance of proper nutrition and exercise. The program is incentive based, meaning that participants earn prizes throughout the 3-month-long sessions when he or she reaches various milestones.
For example, after earning 10 points, which requires 10 work out sessions or 10 one-on-one meetings with a licensed dietician or a combination of the two activities, participants are given a specially designed, limited-edition t-shirt.
More work outs and more nutrition sessions equals more points which means logoed backpacks and water bottles. Even the parents of participants are rewarded with a prize after their child successfully completes six weeks of the Healthy Me Program.
“Jayda has an awesome support system with her mom and dad,” said Kristie Messerli, a RSTHC Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist who helped co-create the Healthy Me Program.
Another major component of the program is a weekly boot camp in which the youngsters work with a master trainer and Healthy Me co-creator Rick Pearson in the 3 Nations
The 45 minute work out every Thursday evening helps increase strength and agility.
Participants are encouraged to work out at least three times a week, including attending the somewhat structured, Healthy Me Bootcamp group class.
“My gym experience has been incredible,” said Cloughly. “In the beginning I was hesitant in going, but now that I have been doing it for a while and got to know all of the staff, I love coming and working out.”
In addition, Cloughly’s parents, mom and dad, tried the Healthy Me Boot Camp class which the RSTHC staff really encourages.
“I will admit, I skipped a few days and wasn’t really into it in the beginning but after I got used to it and made it a routine, I felt more and more ready to start every day,” Cloughly said. “At home, I have even began to watch my eating habits and I noticed when I worked out, I began to eat healthier and it has really made a good impact on diet and influenced what I put in my body.”
Moreover, Cloughly said that with her need knowledge on nutrition, she still enjoys chips and desserts, but she eats less and watches her intake more than before the program.
During the nutrition sessions, participants along with at least one parent, learn about portion control, the fundamentals of healthful eating, and the youth set personal fitness and food goals for themselves.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded nearly $2 million for Special Diabetes Programs for Indians. The RSTHC was a recipient of some of that funding which will be used for more projects like the Healthy Me Program.
Last week, Stacy Briscoe, the RSTHC Diabetes Program
Manager announced the reinstatement of water fitness, swimming lessons, and lap swim.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that nationwide, one of three children is overweight or obese, but throughout Indian County, the numbers are worse and that certainly is the situation at the RSIC.
At the tribal health center, 44 percent or 224 of its 511 youth patients (0-17-years), have been diagnosed as medically overweight or obese. Being overweight often leads to a myriad of health issues, most notably diabetes and heart disease, but for adolescents, poor body image can be devastating.
“This is an absolute crisis,” said Stacy Briscoe, Diabetes Program Manager at the RSTHC.
“These numbers are stunning.”
Unfortunately, in addition to the need for behavioral changes like healthy eating and exercise, diabetes is often passed on in Native Americans families because of genetics.
Indian Health Service experts project that among Native Americans, one out
of every two children will develop diabetes.
However, at the RSIC, through efforts like the Healthy Me Program, focusing on a healthy diet and regular exercise, can prevent certain chronic diseases, including diabetes. While it can be an emotionally and physically difficult illness to live with and combat, severe diabetes often leads to nerve damage and even amputation, plus vision problems.
The staff at the RSTHC is committed to early intervention and slowing down what seems to be imminent on a lot of reservations.
“Families can’t change their inherited genes or family history, but they can change the family environment to encourage healthy eating habits and physical activity,” said Messerli.
With the Healthy Me Program and the majority of its efforts, the RSTHC uses several of its experts to fight obesity. The staff uses a panel approach with a pediatrician, a dietitian, the gym trainer, and nurses to educate not just the child, but his or her entire family
on healthy nutrition and positive activity habits.
Young people, 13-years and older, can use the 3 Nations Wellness Center gym during regular operating hours, 8 a.m.– 8 p.m., Monday – Thursday and 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., on Fridays.
“The best feeling also, is when you start to feel results and see them as well, you feel more confident,” Cloughly said. “My family and I have noticed that when I come home from the gym, I am happy and cheerful.”
Messerli said the change in Cloughly was obvious.
“She has an increased self-esteem and Jayda has built a habit of exercising after school and monitoring what and how much she is eating, Messerli said. “Jayda’s progress is
To date, Cloughly has lost 15 pounds, plus 5 percent of her body fat.
“I am proud of myself through this whole journey,” Cloughly said.
For more information or to join any of the programs offered through the RSTHC
to combat being overweight, obese or any of the ailments associated with these illnesses, please contact, Messerli, Briscoe or any of the staff at the RSTHC at 329-5162.