The announcement came Aug. 21 as a crowd gathered outside the Peter MacKinnon Building on campus.
MEND teams up with local organizations to promote “fitter, healthier and happier” lives by changing behaviors, such as poor nutrition and lack of exercise, that cause obesity.
“We care about Saskatchewan people and feel a strong responsibility to address the pressing health issues of childhood obesity, as our children’s health will determine the future health of our province,” Arnie Arnott, president and CEO of Saskatchewan Blue Cross, stated in a press release.
“We are very pleased to be the lead partner of MEND in Saskatchewan, creating a breakthrough pathway for young people to connect with a new obesity prevention program.”
The MEND program will initially take place over three years, starting in Saskatoon before branching out to Prince Albert and northern communities in the second year. Regina and southern Saskatchewan will join the program in the third year.
Dean of the College of Kinesiology Carol Rodger said the college is committed to the program and reversing the trend of obesity.
“It is also a wonderful opportunity for students and faculty across the Colleges of Kinesiology, Nursing, Medicine and Pharmacy and Nutrition to work together in an inter-professional model of wellness program delivery,” she said.
Weekly MEND sessions will be held across the province to educate families on living a healthier lifestyle, with a variety of exercise-oriented games geared towards children below the age of 14.
Both parents and children will be able to take part in discussions regarding healthier lifestyles that touch on topics like nutrition, portion size, motivation and exercise.
Roughly 29 per cent of Saskatchewan’s children between the ages of two and 17 are overweight or obese, slightly higher than the national average of 25 per cent.