|Vareen O'Keefe Domaleski, MSN, EdD, NEA, BC, chief nursing officer at Bradley Hospital, reads to patients and staff on the Children's Inpatient Unit as part of the hospital’s Eat Healthy RI event programming.
Bradley Hospital recently participated in Eat Healthy RI’s 2014 “The Picture of Children’s Health” event. The statewide event was a collaboration of more than 300 local schools, organizations and businesses that all share a common goal of promoting healthy lifestyles in children. Participating groups planned activities to motivate youth to celebrate their health, and to call attention to the increasing childhood obesity epidemic.
“As a leader in children’s mental health, part of our mission is to encourage our patients to make healthy choices for their bodies and minds,” said Jessica Olingy, CPNP, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Bradley Hospital, and organizer of the hospital’s Eat Healthy RI events. “We hope to empower the youth we serve to not only adopt a lifelong pattern of healthier eating, but also to impact those around them, including their older siblings, parents, extended family, and even their future children.”
The goal of the event was to educate youth and their parents on good nutrition habits that will lead to optimal physical and mental health. Each participating group developed their own unique ways of motivating children to celebrate their health and encourage those around them to do the same. This year’s statewide event reached an estimated 100,000 children and families.
Bradley Hospital’s Eat Healthy RI programming included group readings on patient units of the children’s book, “Is Your Hair Made of Donuts?” followed by a series of health-related activities. Patients made a nutritious snack of hummus and veggie pizzas while they learned about the benefits of eating healthy. They also created nutrition-based art projects and participated in fun physical activities.
Although the event was focused on helping children to be more aware of their health, Bradley Hospital also took the opportunity to encourage healthier behavior among hospital staff, who were encouraged to walk from parking lots instead of taking the shuttle, to use the stairs instead of elevators, and to hold walking meetings when possible. Staff were also invited to participate in a healthy recipe contest. The winning recipe is now featured on the hospital’s nutrition website -- www.lifespan.org/Arugula-Quinoa-Salad.html. The hospital cafeteria, Pendleton’s, also featured a healthy lunch menu special in honor of the day’s festivities.
“We know that many children learn by example,” said Olingy. “So, one of the best things we can do is set an example for our patients and visitors on leading a healthier lifestyle.”