Motivating Families into Shape
December 21, 2011
Hawaii recruiters Sgt. 1st Class Ernesto Gonzalez and Staff Sgt. Anthony Roy reached out to a local physician to see if she could motivate students to get in shape.
"I see students in my office that don't qualify for an Army enlistment because they do not pass the weight standards or the body fat percentage," said Roy, of the Pearlridge Recruiting Center. "I saw this as an opportunity to help with childhood obesity."
Roy, familiar with childhood obesity issues, heard about a program called Let's Move, with Dr. Theresa Y. Wee, from Waipahu, Hawaii. Wee started the program in January 2011 to help adolescents with weight and obesity problems. The program shows parents exercises they can perform with their children in less than 45 minutes, held every fourth Saturday. The main audiences are students who range from ages 10 to 16 and adult family members.
The program changed its name to Wee-PT in July when Roy discussed with Wee what he could bring to the table to assist with the program, such as the Army Pocket Physical Training Guide (RPI 237) as the foundation of the exercise portion of the four- stage process, along with what Wee calls "good, old-fashioned get-in-your-face attitude from the members of the Army."
The enthusiasm and energy that Roy and Gonzalez bring with them, along with the techniques used by the Army, really motivate the participants, according to Wee. What they do is different and so out of the norm of what everybody is used to.
"It's like a breath of fresh air," said Wee, adding that they make it fun for the families enrolled in the program, providing water bottles and T-shirts. "It really makes everybody feel like part of the team and not just on the team!"
When this program started it had eight families enrolled; it now has 13, with children ranging from 8 to 15 years old.
The four stages of Wee-PT are:
• Fruits and vegetables along with portion control.
• Healthy vs. non-healthy drinks and healthy alternatives.
• Physical training.
• Recap of the previous stages (almost like an after-action review).
Although she specializes in pediatrics, Wee requires the entire family to be involved in the Wee-PT program because proper eating habits and physical exercise need to be a part of everyday life, not just understanding it while at her office.
"As a doctor I feel it is my responsibility to educate those who need help, especially those with a weight problem because as you know it has become quite a big problem within the U.S., not to mention here in Hawaii. If I can help those who need help it reduces the risk of many other health issues associated with overweight and obesity."
Wee said the change in culture with today's technology has made people very sedentary. Between sitting at a computer for hours on end playing computer games, video games or texting and chatting with the use of social media, people are less active. There are positives with technology, but the negative has been a lack of adequate physical activity, according to Wee.
Wee said she would like to see the town of Waipahu at least know about the program and its schedule to enable them to use as a resource if needed to live a healthier life.
In addition to partnering with the Army, Wee would like to find more organizations to bring on the team to promote healthier lifestyles and help spread the word.
Partnering with the recruiters has been a great asset with the knowledge they have because they live a healthy lifestyle every day in order to stay fit and disciplined to answer the call to duty, according to Wee.
"I have had other medical organizations ask me, 'What are you doing differently to inspire interest in this type of program?' … I cannot really pinpoint what I am doing differently, but what I can say is that this is coming from my heart and I am completely passionate about what I feel is my obligation as a doctor."
Simply put, Wee's message to today's youth is, "Your health matters."
Roy said he is optimistic he can help Wee with the program for the good of the children and their future.