YMCA program in Avon gives families a health ‘Wake Up’ call

Kaitie Delgado, RD, leads a Wake Up class inside an Avon Kroger store. (WISH Photo)

AVON, Ind. (WISH) — A free program in Hendricks County is bringing families together and helping improve their health at the same time. It’s called “Wake up.”

The program helps teach families about eating right, moving more, and stressing less. Wake Up was started in September of 2015 and is usually hosted at the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA in Avon, but recently program leaders took the group out of the classroom and into the grocery store.

“Peppers, and pumpkins and carrots and spinach,” registered dietitian Kaitie Delgado listed items in the produce section with the class.

They say a family that eats together, stays together, but often bad eating habits can be contagious around the dinner table.

“If you are consistently going to McDonald’s or you’re consistently eating Hamburger Helper every night and the children understand that,” Delgado.

She and the other Wake Up coaches use this session to get these families to rethink their grocery list.

“Manage the amount of portion that you have at one time,” Delgado said in the produce section.

The group marches through an Avon Kroger store scrutinizing common items. The coaches encourage not only parents to take a closer look at nutrition labels, but the kids too.

“Let’s look at the ingredients,” Delgado said.

“Water, whole grain wheat flower and wheat gluten,” Steve Rhim said holding a loaf of bread.

Rhim and his wife Nikki attend Wake Up every Wednesday with their five daughters.

“With us being such a large family, each of our girls were needing something more,” Nikki said.

“Like Emma… Emma hates broccoli, but now she’ll eat it. She still doesn’t enjoy it, but she’ll eat it,” Steve said.

The children now use brightly-colored bracelets to keep track of their food groups and portions through the day. A green bracelet represents one serving of vegetables, purple is fruit, pink is sweets. The children start the day with all their bracelets on one wrist and then move them to the other when they eat certain types of foods.

Nikki says it’s about more than just weight control, but education and endurance too.

“Steven is a chef and I’m a nurse, so we’re always looking for ways to improve ourselves and our family… They look forward to it each week,” Nikki said.

And the Wake Up coaches said participating as a family helps with accountability and support, allowing families to build a healthy lifestyle together, rather than bad habits.

“If we can lay the groundwork for this and the foundation, our kids will be healthier and the way we do that is through parents as well,” wellness coach Christa Willoughby said.

Wake Up is every Wednesday from 6 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. at the Hendricks Regional Health YMCA in Avon. It’s on the second floor of the building. It is free and anyone is welcome to attend. The coaches said make sure you come dressed and ready to move.