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Learning to Thrive with WakeMed Energize!

Learning to make family-centered healthy lifestyle changes and choices. That’s what WakeMed ENERGIZE! is about. Children who learn to eat right and exercise regularly are less likely to develop chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The adults participating in ENERGIZE! enjoy these same benefits right along with their children. Hannah Williams and her grandmother Alice Burch are great examples of how building a healthy lifestyle through ENERGIZE! can directly and positively impact health indicators.

At age 13, Hannah was on a precarious path. A trip to her physician revealed elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels due to family medical history, limited exercise and a less-than-healthy diet. But that trip to the doctor also yielded a solution: WakeMed ENERGIZE!.

Hannah’s physician provided the necessary referral for ENERGIZE!, and soon Hannah was fully involved in the 12-week program at AE Finley YMCA in north Raleigh. Her grandmother, 67-year-old Alice Burch, took Hannah to her fitness sessions, and, in keeping with the program, exercised at the Y as well. “Children who have support of their families are typically the most successful at making lasting changes,” notes Julie Paul, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, ENERGIZE! program coordinator.

“The thing she liked best about ENERGIZE! was that it doesn’t feel like exercise,” explains Alice. “She felt like she was just playing games; not exercising. Hannah also loves to dance so she had a great time when they did Zumba®.” WakeMed ENERGIZE! professionals also helped Hannah make some simple, healthy changes to her diet to both lose weight and decrease her chances of developing type 2 diabetes – a primary purpose of the program. “Hannah doesn’t drink any soda anymore,” says Alice. “She has also cut down on white bread and now eats more whole grains.”

The results? Hannah lost 12 pounds and brought her cholesterol and blood pressure back to normal. Alice, who has struggled with pre-diabetes and blood pressure issues, now maintains healthy glucose and blood pressure levels as well.

“WakeMed ENERGIZE helps children and their parents avoid health issues that are directly related to poor diet and lack of physical activity,” says Julie. “It’s wonderful when families like Alice and Hannah can see actual, positive results in both their waist lines and their health indicators, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels. The benefits become very real and that can be very impactful.”

2013 kids

Children in need of inpatient rehabilitation services deserve their own space, too! That’s why the WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital now houses four private rooms for children ages 4 and up (and younger on a case-by-case basis). Sleeping couches for a parent are conveniently located in the rooms, which are decorated with soothing organic colors and features.

WakeMed Rehabilitation offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care for children of all ages and diagnoses such as congenital issues, traumatic brain injury and serious physical injuries. For additional information, please call 919-350-8864 or send an email to brudisill@wakemed.org.

Parents are welcome to enroll their children and teens (ages 6 to 18) with a referral from their family physician. The ENERGIZE! team evaluates participants’ current health behaviors and provides ongoing education and support. Based on family needs and motivation levels, each family will be enrolled in one of the following options:

  • A 12-week exercise and educational program that meets three times a week. Group healthy lifestyle education and fitness programs are provided at community-based locations (such as local YMCAs). Participants then follow up with the ENERGIZE! team every six months for two years to help ensure healthy ongoing progress.
  • Individual medical nutrition therapy and healthy lifestyle education sessions including customized meal and fitness plans. Participants regularly meet with the ENERGIZE! team for ongoing support and goal setting.

Physician referrals are required.