School District and Weight Loss Academy Launch Program to Tackle Obesity and Bullying Among Teens

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Missouri School District and MindStream Academy Launch Ground Breaking Partnership

Health and wellness initiatives are an important part of our school district culture. We believe academic achievement works synergistically with health and wellness.

In a ground breaking effort to take a more active role in eradicating the effects of obesity and bullying on teens nationwide, The Independence, MO School District and MindStream Academy have formed a carefully crafted partnership merging health and education. This benchmark program aims to identify kids within the school district whose ability to excel in school are compromised due to a variety of issues including poor attendance patterns, weight issues, social isolation and bullying. Early intervention teens will be enrolled in MindStream Academy for a semester or more where their needs can be addressed on an individualized basis.

This program was the brainchild of three national obesity and health advocates including Dr. David Katz, Editor-in-Chief, Childhood Obesity and Director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, Dr. Jim Hinson, Superintendent for Independence, MO School District and Ray Travaglione, founder and CEO of MindStream Academy.

The Independence, MO School District is actively engaged with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation as well as a pioneer in health promotion programming. According to Superintendent Dr. Jim Hinson, “health and wellness initiatives are an important part of our school district culture. We believe academic achievement works synergistically with health and wellness. We want to set a precedent not only for the children who deserve the best our system can provide, but also serve as a role model for other schools and districts to follow”.

MindStream Academy ( is an emerging leader in the fight against childhood obesity and the restoration of optimal health and wellness for teens. The Academy offers both a year round program as well as a summer program under the daily guidance of counselors, educators, fitness instructors, dieticians and chefs. Their approach is comprehensive and includes all areas of transformation needed to live a long-term healthy and productive life. According to Ray Travaglione, the founder and CEO of MindStream Academy, “I wanted to create a place that was specifically designed to meet the growing needs of teens and tweens who are at a critical crossroads in their lives. Kids in peril right now cannot wait on the world to change to get their lives back- and neither should we. There is a world available right now and our kids don't need to go through the doors of an operating room to get there. Let's give lifestyle a chance to work its magic.”

The visionary behind this idea was Dr. David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, widely recognized as the leading international authority on nutrition, weight management, and the prevention of chronic disease. He saw the immediate need for a small coalition of leaders ready to address the significant needs of teens battling obesity and bullying. “Many factors in the modern world conspire against health and weight control- for children and adults alike” says Dr. Katz, “as a result, some kids (and adults) are in dire peril- confronting both poor health, and its insult via bullying/persecution and the injury of what ill health does to us. This partnership is really that important first step.”

This program is already producing evidence of success with its students. In addition to meeting and exceeding their individual weight loss goals, students are also creating a fresh new perspective and mind set to go back into their homes and communities and pursue their passions in life.

MindStream students report when they return to their traditional school setting, they have improved test scores and grades. Affected schools are also seeing a reduction in absenteeism, dropout rates and visits to the nurse’s office.

MindStream alumni can return as ambassadors to help and inspire change within their fellow students, school faculty and the community at large. These kids can become a voice of understanding and reasoning as well as a resource for those that don't know where to turn.

This newly formed alliance will begin implementation in the Independence Missouri School District, but will be reaching out to other school superintendents and districts with invitations to participate. Their mutual long term goal is for active participation across state lines as a national initiative.

About MindStream Academy:
MindStream Academy ( is a full-service boarding school on a pristine 43-acre horse farm in South Carolina for teens and tweens who want to get healthy, fit, lose weight, take control of their lives, build self-esteem, and pursue a personal passion.

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