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Unique New Statewide Campaign Launching to Help Millions of Pennsylvania Schoolchildren Combat Childhood Obesity, Weight Issues, by Attacking Physical and Psychological Roots of Problems
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Groundbreaking campaign that targets growing stressors, eating disorders, says: “It’s not only what our kids are eating…sometimes it’s what’s eating our kids®”
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Grant secured by local legislators to take free problem-solving resources to millions
 

1,000+ SCHOOLS ACROSS PENNSYLVANIA, Sept. 22, 2008 – Pennsylvania’s children have an important new friend as they return to school this year. An innovative new campaign designed to reach millions of Pennsylvania schoolchildren is being launched today to help them battle the fastest-growing health problem in America today: childhood obesity and other weight issues. While providing a wealth of information on the physical side of weight problems, this unique campaign, created by the 126-year-old national children’s crisis charity KidsPeace’s acclaimed problem-solving web resource TeenCentral.Net, seeks to add the often-overlooked “missing half” of the obesity/weight equation: the emotional roots of overeating and undereating.

With funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the “All About Weight” awareness campaign is a kid-friendly effort designed to reach Pennsylvania children where they live, learn, and play, and in a format and style they understand.  A massive outreach effort is being made to all 1,000+ junior high, middle and high schools in the state, providing free access to the acclaimed TeenCentral.Net websource’s new weight awareness module, study and workshop guides to be used in the schools, and – most importantly – TeenCentral.Net’s 24/7 safe, anonymous, clinically screened, free online resources to help cope today’s youngsters cope with the underlying stresses that can later lead to overeating and other problems.  To ensure all Pennsylvania kids have access to these free materials, a radio PSA campaign will hit all 295 radio stations throughout the state.

“In 126 years of working with children overcoming crisis, we’ve learned that stresses take a toll not only the emotions but on the body and behaviors that affect the body,” says Dr. Julius Licata, director of KidsPeace’s TeenCentral.Net. “For clinicians the link between stress and eating has long been clear, and for kids who have trouble verbalizing their feelings, overeating and other eating disorders are common responses. Campaigns that focus only on the physical side are addressing only half the problem.”

In just the past twenty years, despite the proliferation of obesity and eating disorder campaigns, the number of overweight children has tripled, and epidemiologists warn of an impending epidemic of obesity-related problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and joint and sleep disorders.  

How the “All About Weight” Campaign Works

The “All About Weight” awareness campaign is a new module of TeenCentral.Net, the unique problem-solving resource created in 1998 by KidsPeace with help from Harvard’s famed child expert Dr. Alvin Poussaint, and Brown University Child Study Center founder Dr. Lewis P. Lipsitt. Providing safe, clinically screened help and advice from trained counselors on problems of growing up, TeenCentral.Net receives more than two million hits a month from teens in all 50 states, has saved lives, and has gotten rave reviews from users and major media. The new weight awareness module uses eye-popping graphics, talking teens, fun, informative quizzes, and extensive information in eight key categories conveniently arranged on the dial of a virtual bathroom scale. The eight main categories are:  Obesity & Overweight, What’s Eating You?, Body Image & Self-Esteem, Eating Disorders, Dieting, Exercise, Nutrition, and Genetics.

Pennsylvania schoolchildren will be reached through a multi-pronged campaign consisting of the weight awareness module, information packages sent to all 1,000+ schools statewide, and free access to TeenCentral.Net’s free 24/7 services to work out any underlying stresses caused by anything from bullying to depression, abuse, or family issues, which can lead to eating and weight disorders or other problems.
“In the past few years, children have also had to contend with the emotional fallout of terror attacks, horrific school shootings like the one in Pennsylvania Dutch country, and disasters such as Hurricane Katrina,” says KidsPeace Acting President Dr. Lorrie Henderson. “This rising tide of stressors may explain why, despite so many traditional obesity prevention campaigns focused only on the physical side of weight problems, our children are getting unhealthier. We believe it's not only what our kids are eating—sometimes, it what's eating our kids, and we hope this two-sided approach helps make Pennsylvania’s children both healthier – and happier."  

“This effort will arm our children with information on physical health as well as the tools they need to work out the emotional stressors that may lead to eating problems,” says Rep. Doug Reichley (R-134), who with other local legislators helped secure the state grant to develop and carry out the campaign. “It is an important step in the battle against this epidemic.”
“A lot of prevention programs focus on diet and exercise, but they don’t help with the day-to-day challenges and stresses that lead to eating and weight problems in the first place,” says TeenCentral Spokesperson Christina Volpe. “This campaign will take on the pressures that teens like me face every day.”

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KidsPeace is a 126-year-old national children’s crisis charity dedicated to giving hope, help, and healing to children facing crisis. Founded in Bethlehem, PA with 29 centers statewide and 50+ centers nationally, KidsPeace directly helps thousands of children a day with life-saving treatment to overcome the crises of growing up. Supported by VIP leaders, including its national spokesperson and founder of the Memory Foundation Leeza Gibbons and child safety and self-esteem icon RETRO BILL, KidsPeace helps millions more each year through prevention and awareness campaigns designed to help America’s kids and parents avoid and overcome the kinds of crises that can strike any child – from disasters and personal traumas to family issues and life crises. KidsPeace was named “The Outstanding Organization” of its kind in the country by the American Association of Psychiatric Services for Children and was called “a prototype of what we need for all children everywhere” by the late, nationally renowned child and family expert, Dr. Lee Salk.

Contact: Mark Stubis, vice president
               1-800-25-PEACE, mstubis@kidspeace.org or markstubis@msn.com

 
   
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