Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital’s Fit Club receives state-wide recognition.

June 29, 2017

Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital’s Fit Club receives state-wide recognition. 

LANSING — Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital will be one of three hospitals that will be receiving the Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s 2017 Ludwig Community Benefit Award today for its Win with Wellness Fit Club.

Mark Platt

The award is named in memory of Patric E. Ludwig, a former MHA president who championed investing in a community’s overall health, and is presented to member organizations integrally involved in collaborative programs to improve the health and well-being of area residents. Each winner will receive $3,000 from the MHA Health Foundation to assist in its health improvement efforts.

Win with Wellness Fit Club, a Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital community collaborative, is designed to take a multidisciplinary, proactive approach to fostering healthy lifestyle choices starting in early childhood. Fit Club is integrated into the school curriculum and provides interactive, developmentally appropriate educational modules during each academic year. Fit Club programming starts in kindergarten and continues through fifth grade, each year building upon an established health curriculum. The goal is to empower youth to take an informed and active role in managing their own health.

Hospital educators partner with 41 community resources to deliver Fit Club programming, serving 3,837 children in three counties and 14 schools. The work is overseen by the Community Health and Wellness Council that is comprised of multidisciplinary community stakeholders. Program effectiveness is measured through in-school fitness assessments and body mass index (BMI) measurements, collected twice each program year to build a longitudinal study. Activity and engagement are determinants of progress, and both have been high. All programming and activities are provided free of charge to partnership schools.

The primary goal for Fit Club is a healthier lifestyle and BMI in children after five years of programming, so when they reach sixth grade they have embedded health habits that will reduce their risk for chronic, preventable diseases. The program will finish its fifth year in 2018-2019, when a positive trend in healthy habits, behaviors and BMIs should be evident.

“The world we live in has changed dramatically over the three decades I have worked in public education,” said Mark Platt, superintendent of Hart Public Schools and a member of the Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital’s board of directors. “Our children have different options in terms of how to spend their free time and some of those options are very sedentary with the advent of video games and mobile devices. The family structure has changed a great deal and so have some of the key components of healthy choices. Foods are often processed and ‘fast,’ which becomes desirable when your stomach feels empty. Making healthy food choices matters more now than when I was a child. When you combine poor food choices with sedentary activities it is a horrible recipe for future health. In our area, this is an even bigger problem as poverty is widespread and healthy foods are more expensive. However, what is most ‘expensive’ is poor health.

Kathy Grierson

“Educating students on how to be healthy and how to make healthy choices is a tremendous outcome of Fit Club. Hart Public Schools is very grateful for its partnership with Spectrum Health and the Fit Club. It’s helped lead to our walk-a-thon in the spring and families starting to enjoy activities together.  Oceana County is a beautiful area to get outside and enjoy all the outdoors has to offer.

“Fit Club brings one of the most practical solutions to our young people. It combines the fun of physical activity and the education of healthy food choices into one package. Our students are getting to see, feel, and learn the benefits of better health directly from the connection with Spectrum Health. Our kids have fun, they learn how to make good food choices. We see them making those choices in our food lines.  We know through conversations with parents that the kids are willing to try something ‘new’ and if they like it, they ask for it at home.

“Everyone knows that obesity in America is a real issue and will require real solutions. When you combine education and health institutions together, you have a great opportunity to make a difference.  Having a partner like Spectrum Health is a tremendous asset to our school and community.”

“I am very humbled and honored that our program has been selected for the MHA Patric E. Ludwig Community Benefit Award,” said Kathy Grierson, community programs coordinator at Ludington hospital. “When I started the program three years ago, I had a vision to help kids be more healthy by offering in-school, fun, health-related assemblies coupled with additional physical fitness opportunities, and hoped that it would make a positive impact on their lives. Three years later, the Fit Club program has grown to a dedicated hospital team of individuals and community stakeholders that help 3,800 children.

“It is very rewarding to be instilling health knowledge and positive behaviors in our youth to help foster a proactive approach to health. The children are amazing! They love to learn and seem to enjoy the opportunities to participate in physical fitness activities through Fit Club.”

The award is being presented during the MHA annual membership meeting today. Other honorees include Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospital and Munson Medical Center, Traverse City.

For more information on the Win with Wellness Fit Club, contact Bill Kerans, communications specialist, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, at (231) 845-3658.

Area Churches