YWHI Announces New Program to Encourage Fitness Among Urban Youth

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Mercy Hospital’s Young Women’s Health Initiative Collaborates With Practitioners from LaRabida Children’s Hospital for New Program to Help Chicago’s Female Teens Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle

Throughout my career, I have seen ongoing disparities in the care and treatment of young urban women...I felt compelled to do everything in my power to change that, not only for the patients I treat, but for young women throughout Chicago and beyond.

Mercy Family Health Center’s Young Women’s Health Initiative (YWHI) today announced that it is collaborating with health practitioners from LaRabida’s Children’s Hospital on a pilot program designed to promote fitness and a healthier lifestyle among Chicago’s young urban female population. The new program, Miss Fit, focuses on physical, nutritional and lifestyle changes for overall fitness and well-being of teens and young women in the months before, during and after giving birth.

YWHI Medical Director, Dr. Karen A. Scott, is a board-certified OB/GYN at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. “Throughout my career, I have seen ongoing disparities in the care and treatment of young urban women and the profoundly negative impact it has on their lives” says Scott. “I felt compelled to do everything in my power to change that, not only for the patients I treat, but for young women throughout Chicago and beyond.”

The Miss Fit curriculum encompasses both fitness and education. The weekly fitness classes include aerobic, strengthening, and postural realignment exercises, as well as gentle stretching, pelvic floor (Kegel) training, and breathing and relaxation activities. The educational component has nutritional counseling, weight management guidance, and general instruction on the physical and emotional changes that occur during and after pregnancy.

Chandi White-Edmonds, DPT, who holds a Doctorate in Physical Therapy, is a Certified Perinatal Fitness Instructor on staff at LaRabida Children’s Hospital, and Founder & CEO of Kinetic Energy Fitness and Therapy – is assisting YWHI with curriculum development and training of the staff who will administer the program.

“In reviewing with Dr. Scott the medical literature on the impact that obesity and weight gain surrounding pregnancy have both on the pregnancy itself and subsequent life course of the mother and fetus, we see many negative, sometimes longstanding, effects” says Dr. White-Edmonds. “Research shows that excessive weight gain during pregnancy and adolescence contributes to the epidemic of obesity in the United States. With increased female adolescent activity and weight management throughout the pregnancy continuum as a common goal, YWHI is the perfect partner for this effort and our hope and intention is that these girls lead healthier lives long after they’ve graduated from Miss Fit.”

The Miss Fit classes are held Saturday mornings at Mercy Medical Center. Interested parties should contact YWHI via phone 773-891-2500 or email: MissFit(at)YWHIchicago(dot)org to obtain more information and to refer either pregnant teens, or new teenage moms with children less than 12 months of age.    

Founded in July, 2009, the YWHI is a Chicago-based umbrella organization under the auspices of Mercy’s Family Health Center. YWHI governs multiple community-based organizations with a goal of creating a paradigm shift in the behaviors and attitudes among young women, health care providers and policy makers.

YWHI has four related programs that together cover the most crucial periods in adolescence and young adulthood. The Chicago South Side Nurse-Family Partnership, YWHI’s inaugural program, provides free nurse home visits and has already dramatically improved the lives of several young first-time mothers. Other programs include Arise (mental and emotional health and fitness), SIHLE (pregnancy and STD prevention), and Day 2 Day Daddy (guidance for young fathers so they can better support the mom and child).

About Young Women’s Health Initiative
YWHI combines evidence-based programs and collaborative partnerships to revolutionize the social, sexual, and reproductive health behavior and care for girls and young women on Chicago’s South side. Committed to an immediate end to the traditional inequities in urban healthcare, YWHI erases longstanding disparities and radically improves the healthcare and wellness of young urban women. For additional information about YWHI programs or donating to the YWHI, contact: Shena Manning, BSN, RN, at 773-891-2500 or YWHI(at)YWHIChicago(dot)org.

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