As Ian Cameron was looking forward to entering the seventh grade, he also was eyeing a spot on the football team.

Having not played previously, the 13-year-old Cumberland resident looked to FitforME!, a new Yarmouth program, to prepare for tryouts and the fall season.

Designed by Riverview Physical Therapy and Bayview Pediatrics, FitforME! offers individualized diet and exercise plans. Since its inception about a year ago, the program has worked with nearly a dozen children.

“There’s certainly a special interest in the growing number of children overweight and obese,” Teri Schrock, a physician assistant at Bayview Pediatrics, said. “I’ve embraced that over the last several years.”

Prompted by two articles — one saying that greater physician-patient contact promoted not just healthy eating, but also behavioral change, and a second, revealing high statistics of overweight and obese children sustaining injuries — Schrock teamed up with Matt Douglas to create the program.

Schrock said they have adapted the program based on each child’s needs. Schrock and Douglas start off by familiarizing themselves with the patient and their family, as well as any concerns and identifying overall goals. While most of the children they have worked with thus far are overweight or obese, Douglas said they have focused more on developing a healthy lifestyle than the numbers on the scale.

While Cameron had never experienced training prior to FitforME!, he said he has enjoyed working with Schrock and Douglas.

“It’s definitely got me more active, and it’s helped me get better in school,” Cameron said, explaining that the physical activity has helped to reduce stress induced by schoolwork.

With football season and his FitforME! Sessions wrapping up, Cameron is looking toward intramural sports and fun activities like jump rope to keep active. He is also following healthy eating guidelines.

The program recently received a $1,300 grant from the Physician Assistant Foundation. Douglas said these funds have allowed them to purchase tools such as pedometers, weighted hula hoops and jump ropes.

“Whatever it might be,” he said. “Anything to motivate the kids to keep them moving and not necessarily feel like they’re exercising.”

Combining the work of pediatrics and physical therapy in this program is part of what makes it unique. Douglas said most overweight or obese children are referred to a nutritionist, but the exercise piece is never addressed.

“Our goal as pediatric health care providers is that we want to hand off healthy folks to the adult world,” Schrock said.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]