Ravenna clinic reapplies for grant to fight obesity

Sara Macho

The Child’s Health Clinic in Ravenna is making steps towards reapplying for a $120,000 grant in April. This grant from the Ohio Department of Health will continue funding a variety of health programs.

The five-year grant was awarded to the clinic in September 2005 and must be renewed every year, said Ruth Carnes, Child Health Services administrator.

A fraction of this grant funds the FLIGHT Program, which stands for Families Learning Individualized Guidelines for Healthy Tomorrows. It is a new obesity service for children living in Portage County.

The program, which is free to participants, provides children with an individualized weight loss plan. Children, ages 3 to 18, and their parents, meet with pediatric nurse practitioner Jill Smith to create healthy meal plans based on the food pyramid.

Smith also has participants record all forms of physical activity in a journal.

This week, administrators from the clinic will meet with Ravenna Activity Center employees to discuss facilitating an exercise program using grant money.

Smith said the FLIGHT Program began in September 2005 after employees at the Child’s Health Clinic in Ravenna noticed child obesity rates were rising.

In Ohio, about 16 percent of children have issues with obesity according to the Ohio Public Health Association’s research.

Smith attributes these statistics to the lack of parks and playgrounds in Portage County.

“Many children are latchkey kids and are told to stay in the house till their parents come home,” she said. “This results in children playing video games and watching television instead of exercising.”

To motivate the children, Smith uses prizes. Children can receive water bottles, Frisbees, jump ropes and playground balls if they perform a certain amount of aerobic activity.

There are currently 20 enrollees in the program and each one has been successful.

“It is a very individualized program,” Smith said. “Success could be a family becoming aware of their child’s weight problem or walking three days a week.”

To register a child or for more information, contact the Child’s Health Clinic in Ravenna at 330 297-5437.

Contact public affairs reporter Sara Macho at [email protected]