Dec 16, 2021 - News

New NWA program aims for healthier families

A set of hand weights with RX imprinted on one end.
Maura Losch/Axios

Community Clinic and the American Heart Association are launching a new program called Lifestyle Rx intended to help families live healthier lives.

Why it matters: Lifestyle changes like healthy eating and regular exercise are easier to stick to if the whole household is on board, and children are more likely to develop and keep healthy habits if their parents have healthy habits, Amanda Echegoyen, chief operating officer of Community Clinic, and Serena Munns, vice president of strategic relationships at the American Heart Association, tell Axios.

  • "A child cannot change behavior on their own. They need the parent to support them," Munns says.

How it works: Community Clinic will offer the program at three of its school-based health centers to target students and their families. It will focus on assessing overall health and "prescribing" specific lifestyle changes like yoga or nutrition recommendations such as a low-carb diet, Echegoyen tells Axios.

  • Lifestyle Rx can be used to manage health conditions like diabetes or for general, preventative health care.
  • Community Clinic will largely try to reach families through kids' annual well visits.
  • Families will receive free nutrition counseling, some local produce with recipes and access to patient navigators, who can help connect them to resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Between the lines: The program is being offered at schools with high poverty rates, including Jones Elementary and Parson Hills Elementary in Springdale and at Siloam Springs.

How it happened: The Walmart Foundation gave an 18-month, $250,000 grant to the American Heart Association to implement the program. The American Heart Association has helped start similar programs in other places across the country, Munns says.

  • The association and Community Clinic had an existing relationship. Lifestyle Rx was born out of conversations between the two organizations as well as other local leaders looking to identify the best ways to help NWA, Munns says.

What's next: The goal is to recruit 1,500 patients in the first 18 months and for the program to be permanent, Munns says.

Of note: Patients do not necessarily have to be affiliated with the schools to use the school-based health centers.

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