New Healthy Nutrition Outreach Program a Success
Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

  

“Encouraging healthy living through a holistic approach is the foundation of our mission,” says Gary Goldberg, Chief Medical Officer at NHCH.   “With the creation of this revolutionary new program, we are living our commitment to our community by providing tools and education that enable one to make healthy choices to live healthier lives.”      

Over the last year, more than 100 North Hawaii students ages 5 to 13 participated in NHCH’s nutrition and education outreach program.  Topics covered in this cutting-edge program include:  the various food groups, the effect food has on your body, that ‘you are what you eat’, how to read a food label, appropriate meal and snack portions, how food can help prevent diseases, in addition to engaging in hands-on food preparations.  “After learning about healthy nutrition, students get to go into the kitchen and prepare a snack putting into action what they just learned,” says Laurie Edmondson, Community Outreach Coordinator with North Hawaii Community Hospital, who developed and spearheads the program.     

Working in collaboration with Kanu o ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School (Kanu), the hospital’s nutrition and education outreach pilot program was launched in Spring of 2014, teaching 15 students from sixth to eighth grade the relationship and impact nutrition has on leading a healthy life.   “Our students learned about health, wellness, healthy snacks, diet and nutrition,” says Te Benioni, Program Manager at Kanu o ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School. “The day Laurie discussed reading labels to learn the amount of sugar in almost everything was eye opening for students,” said Benioni.  “Many students were surprised at how much sugar is in a bottle of soda.”

“One of the greatest benefits of this program is that students learn about really good, healthy snack options for themselves,” says Benioni.    “Another benefit is that students are going home and talking to their parents about what they’re learning.”   Edmondson added, “we specifically choose to work with students initially in hopes of a trickle up effect.   We encourage students to share what they are learning with their parents, aunties, uncles and other family members.  Our hope is that healthy living will become a normal topic of discussion and ultimately everyday life.”   

The wildly successful program has grown into an 8-week after-school class and 6 to 8 week summer school opportunity for keiki from first to sixth grade at Kanu and will soon expand tailored versions of this program at Waimea Country Day School and North Kohala Village Hub in Kohala.   “We hope to continue to grow this program throughout all of North Hawaii,” shares Edmondson. 

This community outreach program supports NHCH’s Community Health Needs Assessment topic of “Exercise, Weight and Nutrition”.   The umbrella topic of “Exercise, Weight and Nutrition” allows NHCH to touch the numerous health disparities found within the community and includes: diabetes, stroke, heart disease and other chronic diseases.  For additional information about the hospital’s nutrition and education outreach program or Community Health Needs Assessment, please contact Laurie Edmondson, NHCH’s Community Outreach Coordinator, at 808.881.4425 or Laurie.Edmondson@NHCH.com


Photo Captions:
(left) Laurie Edmondson, NHCH Community Outreach Coordinator, provides hands-on nutrition education for students at Kanu o ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School enabling them to make healthy choices to live healthier lives.  (right) Students at Kanu o ka ‘Aina New Century Public Charter School make their own healthy snack as part of the hospital’s new nutrition and education outreach program.