Since the inception of the MEND programme in April 2008 the Play and Early Intervention Team have continued to deliver a service which has challenged issues surrounding equality whilst tackling at a local level the well documented rising levels of childhood obesity.
MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It!) is a community, family-based programme for overweight and obese children ages 2-4, 5-7 and 7-13 years and the recently introduced MEND Teens for 13-16 year olds and their families. It combines all the elements known to be vital in treating and preventing overweight or obesity in children, including family involvement, practical education in nutrition, increasing physical activity and behaviour change. Sessions are delivered over a ten week period and place emphasis on practical, fun learning and is designed to deliver sustained improvements in families' diets, fitness levels and overall health. MEND is not a diet - it empowers children and their families to make life changes and to build a foundation for healthy living for life.
In addition, and as a direct result of the success of the MEND 5-7 and 7-13 programmes a 2-4 MEND programme was introduced which specifically focused on supporting families with children in the early years. This multi-component programme provides support in the form of fussy and balanced eating, reducing screen time, increasing active play, positive parenting, including role modelling and encouraging healthy eating habits and routines.
The Play and Early Intervention Team prides itself in its pro-active approach in providing a platform for all MEND graduates, siblings and their families to encompass an active healthy lifestyle. Through our TreMENDous Club it is apparent that this unique club is an innovative tool which provides children, young adults and parents with the skills, confidence and enthusiasm to lead a full and active life.
The successful implementation of the MEND programme has further enhanced East Ayrshire's position as a national leader in the field of community health improvement and in turn has raised the profile of East Ayrshire Council and its Community Planning Partners in terms of innovative and integrated partnership working.
The success was once again brought to the forefront when East Ayrshire secured funding for the Healthy Powerful Communities project through the Legacy Element of the Big Lottery Fund.
The project seeks to build on successful implementation of MEND both to help reduce obesity amongst children and families, and also to drive forward the assets strength based approach to ensure wider community impact.