The project was launched with a $45,020 donation from Kohl's Care. A free community screening event was held on May 12 in Springfield with approximately 400 children screened. The event was open to children ages 6 to 18. There were also some fun nights held.
Lauren Holland, health educator and fitness instructor at Cox Monett Hospital, is the coordinator of the CARDIAC Kids. The program began in Monett in 2003 and is starting its 10th year.
The program was created in West Virginia in 1998 by a pediatric cardiologist, Dr. William Neal. The area where the program began was rural and was considered unhealthy.
The program began locally in the Monett schools and soon expanded to 12 area schools in Barry and Lawrence counties. The target audience is fifth grade students. Fifth graders are old enough to begin making decisions about nutrition and exercise and young enough to still influence their patterns of behavior before they turn into hard habits.
"We screen the children with the permission of the parents," said Holland. "The screenings include cholesterol levels, body mass index, blood pressure and diabetes."
According to Holland, students in the program with abnormal results can participate in a one-week Cardiac Family Fun program. This event is for children and parents and focuses on healthy food preparation and physical activity. Children and parents participate in actual hands-on food preparation activities taught by a registered dietitian or health professional.
The other portion of the session focuses on physical activity education, what physical activity is, how long activity should last, overcoming excuses for inactivity, instruction on how to use a pedometer and participation in physical activity.
Healthy Hearts is part of the school-based surveillance and intervention initiative with CARDIAC Kids. It is a web-based instruction module for the students and is used by classroom teachers to supplement the current health curriculum. The module helps teachers meet a number of national standards in the subject areas of health, physical education, science, language arts and technology.
Healthy Hearts specifically is designed to impact health behaviors related to proper nutrition, physical activity and tobacco avoidance. It assists intermediate grade children, ages 10 through 12, in acquiring the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that lead to wise decisions and healthy lifestyles.
Test results in children are measured in a percentile because they are still growing. Adults are measured in a set range.
The 85 percentile is rated as at-risk to become overweight. The 95 percentile are considered to be overweight.
According to Holland, 42 percent of children that the program is serving are at risk to become overweight or are overweight.
A recent study conducted among Missouri school-age children showed 39.4 percent are overweight. About 14 percent of area children have a blood pressure that is considered a mild risk. Approximately 2 percent are considered to have high blood pressure. There are approximately 2 percent showing some risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Testing for Type 2 diabetes is a skin test done on the back of the neck. It is like a darkening or thickening of the skin at the back of the neck.
"It looks like the child just is not washing their neck," said Holland.
The cholesterol screening is a blood test. The test checks total cholesterol and assesses four different lipid measurements.
Over the past nine years, the program has had approximately 3,000 children participate in the blood tests. Over the nine years, about 19 percent of students have had some type of elevated cholesterol number.
Nursing students from Cox College go into the schools and do the body mass index screenings, blood pressure screenings and the diabetes screenings. There are also Missouri Southern State University students who help with the evening classes. Dietetic students help with the program from Missouri State University.
"Cox College has been helping for approximately six years, and they send nursing students every year," said Holland. "This is great for the program."
All of the funding for the programs comes through the Children's Miracle Network.
"We don't get to see children long-term with the program. It is more of a short-term program," said Holland. "I just get to see them a couple of times, but I think the biggest thing for me is planting the seed. We get to help families be more mindful of making some healthy changes and to get the wheels turning so that they can start thinking how they can be healthier, eat healthier, be more active and just taking those simple steps to do that. That is the big thing with our CARDIAC Kids program, is to get the ball rolling."
For more information on CARDIAC Kids and other wellness programs visit www.coxhealth.com/cardiac kids.