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10/23/2012 12:08:00 PM
Fit Kids of Arizona opens clinic in Williams

David Yankus

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - In response to the increased number of children and their families participating in the Fit Kids of Arizona program, Fit Kids is opening a satellite clinic in Williams. The new clinic will be open one day a month to accommodate the monthly appointments of Fit Kids participants in the area.

The new clinic is located in Williams Elementary Middle School (WEMS), but a date to officially open has yet to be determined. Fit Kids program manager Matt Leversee said it will be sometime in November.

"We want to minimize the commuting distance and time for those families in the Williams area by offering Fit Kids right in their own community," said Leversee. "We are seeing an increased number of families from this area and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to continue to benefit from our program."

Started in 2009, Fit Kids of Arizona is a regional community health initiative developed by Northern Arizona Healthcare, with programs at Flagstaff Medical Center and Verde Valley Medical Center, to address the growing health concern of obesity in children.

Additionally, services are offered in Camp Verde, at Killip Elementary School in Flagstaff, and Sedona. Since its inception, more than 1,400 children have been referred to the Fit Kids of Arizona program.

"Between Flagstaff Unified and Cottonwood Oak Creek school districts, K-5 data ranges is actually 31 percent, and that's at risk or overweight children. We want to bring that number down," Leversee said. "The hospital is actually making the investment up front so we can keep some of these kids out of the hospital 30 years down the road."

Leversee said his organization is really interested in working with kids now so that they are healthy long term. They want to encourage healthy lifestyles and promote smart decision-making, as well as provide after school activities such as a running program, which they already do in other districts.

"For the clinic itself we have a nurse practitioner, a behavioral counselor, an exercise physiologist, and a registered dietitian," said Leversee. "From those four specialties, the parents and the child will meet with each one, our team will all collectively come together to conclude what the family's greatest needs are."

According to Leversee, the child and his or her parents will meet with these four specialists only after a physician, or perhaps a school nurse, refers them to the Fit Kids program. These specialists then decide what is needed to regain positive health in the child, whether it's simply more activity, medical intervention, proper nutrition and behavioral modification, or a combination of these techniques.

"The program is six months in length, and the reason is we want to make sure people have sustainable change," Leversee said. "And we're not focusing on weight loss in this program, even though it is a childhood obesity program, we're focused more on long-term healthy changes.

"So even if you can eat a little bit healthier, you might not lose a lot of weight in our program, but long term if you can get those habits instilled right now, they'll eventually grow into their bodies. So that's what we're hoping to do, it's more about focusing on those healthy changes more often than not."

Fit Kids of Arizona's satellite clinic at WEMS will also be open to the community as a whole and not just the district students. That way anyone identified by the school nurse or a physician who might be at risk can seek the help they need.

To learn more about Fit Kids of Arizona and upcoming Fit Kids events, call (928) 214-3537, visit, or become a friend of Fit Kids on Facebook.

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