Before I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013, I started an obesity prevention non-profit at Franklin School in Santa Barbara. Franklin has 99% Latino students many of whom are already over weight or obese on entry into kindergarten.
As part of this program, the school has vegetable gardens and a teaching kitchen. It also has a custom gym as a result of winning a gold medal from the state of CA for improvement in fitness and reduction in weight over three years. Blue Cross California donated the equipment for the gym.
I recently became involved with the program again. Alejandra Gutierrez is one of my patients. She is an educator at Franklin School and is witness to young children starting Kindergarten who are huge and worries about their health going forward. Alejandra introduced me to Diego Figueroa, a graduate of Franklin who is presently an outstanding student, finishing the premed curriculum.
I have agreed to help motivate, educate and direct a core of volunteers, many of whom are premedical students at SBCC, and UCSB, to help resurrect the program. They are enthusiastic to further develop and implement a comprehensive childhood wellness program aimed at educating the families and their children about the why and the how to change their lifestyle and become less vulnerable to the diseases associated with obesity. The approach will also include identifying traumas in the lives of families that may be in part responsible for mindless eating. Stress reduction techniques and counseling will be an important component of our program. The children will have baseline BMI and Blood Pressure recorded and charted over time to act as the prime outcome of the initiative.
The second half of “Surviving Kidney Disease” is devoted to how we can prevent severe chronic disease by altering our environment and mind set. Backed up by the science of psychoneuroimmunology, the message offers hope to so many of us that are heading for a life of illness. We hope to apply some of these principals in our Franklin initiative.