Health Forward Foundation

KCU medical students work with children on healthier lifestyles

CHAMPS coaches (in purple T-shirts) and families celebrate a successful year of improving health.

Imagine being a first-year medical student and having a daily schedule of lectures over subjects such as pharmacology of the neuromuscular junction, radiographic anatomy, smooth muscle physiology and then attending a lab on thoracic spine diagnosis.  

After these, you’ll need to study for several hours in preparation for tomorrow’s courses and tests. Perhaps imagine also attending additional courses to complement your medical school training with a master’s of arts in business.

It’s hard to fathom how medical students have enough time in a day to study, let alone sleep, eat and get a little exercise somewhere along the way. Medical school is time-consuming and rigorous. Many such students have come to Kansas City — a friendly, but new city — from points all over the country to attend medical school.

Yet, for a select group of medical students from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU), finding that energy and applying it to help children and families in the surrounding neighborhoods and local community is exactly what they do as part of the CHAMPS program, an Health Forward grant-funded initiative developed through Score 1 for Health®.  

With CHAMPS (Coaching Health And Movement Program with Students), medical students receive training to work with children (along with their parents) in kindergarten through 5th grade, to improve their choices in activity and food in order to better their health. They are then teamed up with a child and his/her parents to coach, one-on-one, over the course of several weeks. Often times, additional family members join. With grant funding in 2016, the program is expanding and will add group sessions at two local elementary schools.  

What’s the immediate goal? For the children, parents and coach, the immediate goal is to change behaviors and make healthier choices. Intermediate goals are focused on effective management of lifestyles in order to curb obesity. Long-term goals focus on changing the culture of health care engagement for patients as well as practitioners.  

KCU faculty and students understand that tomorrow’s physicians must be prepared to actively partner with their patients and collaborate with the community to prevent disease. Soon, outcomes will center on attaining measurable improvements in one’s health — improvements that require new approaches to treatment plans which go far beyond the traditional prescription pad. KCU and Score 1 understand that Score 1 parents are asking for help in fighting obesity — help that is affordable, flexible, and culturally relevant.  

Today’s family physicians can feel squeezed for time in the clinic setting where there is pressure to see a high volume of clients in a short period of time. Even when the time allows, many doctors do not feel they have the tools, training and support systems at their disposal to address the complex issues around weight management with patients. Through CHAMPS, KCU medical students are gaining important preparation and tools to be highly effective partners with children and families in achieving a healthier lifestyle.  


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Health Forward's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact Health Forward Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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