Published on March 04, 2019

Wellness: It’s not just for adultsWellness: It’s not just for adults

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In that spirit, a special pediatric Wellness Trails event will be dedicated to exploring healthy living for youth on Sunday, March 24, 2019.

Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies for Children and Teens will be the first of its kind for Wellness Trails, Cape Cod Healthcare’s wellness education series, which traditionally addresses topics related to adult health. Since its launch in 2017, explorations have ranged from heart and gut health to cancer prevention and healthy aging, featuring expert physicians and clinical specialists from Cape Cod Healthcare as well as local resources in complementary areas like nutrition, fitness, tai chi, yoga and mindfulness.

Now in its third year, the time was right to forge new paths with a dedicated look at wellness for the younger generation, to help establish a foundation for future healthy lifestyle choices and adult well-being.

One in six children in the U.S. aged 2-8 years has a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. One in five school-age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity, three times higher than in the 1970s, according to Kumara Sidhartha, MD, MPH, medical director of the Cape Cod Healthcare ACO and Emerald Physicians.

“Children and adolescents are incredibly vulnerable and exceptionally resilient at the same time,” he said. “Historic patterns such as childhood trauma and turbulent future forecasts in education, debt and jobs impact mental and physical wellbeing of adolescents. Cultural phenomena such as advertisements, social media and peer pressure add another layer of distress.

We, at the Wellness Trails, are overdue for bringing this event to the forefront – assembling the best experts under one roof to provide education, build resilience, and help navigate the road back to good health for the kids and their parents on Cape Cod.”

Wellness on Many Levels

Event speakers will address a variety of contemporary topics. They are:

  • Bart Main, Jr., MD, Child/Adolescent Psychiatrist, Cape Cod Healthcare Centers for Behavioral Health: What does Mental Health Look Like and How do Kids Get There?
  • Kathryn Rudman, MD, pediatrician, Seaside Pediatrics: How to Build a Healthy Relationship with Food and Body Image in the Age of Social Media
  • Jeffrey Spillane, MD, FACS, thoracic surgeon, Cape Cod Healthcare: Juul, e-Cigarettes and the Rising Teenage Vaping Epidemic: What Today’s Parents Need to Know
  • Nicole Cormier, RD, LDN, owner, Delicious Living Nutrition, Inc.: Nutrient-dense Lunchboxes and Snacks that Support Intuitive Eating Practices
  • Manny Marrero, MOT, OTR/L, occupational therapist, Cape Cod Healthcare Centers for Behavioral Health: The Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation for Parents, Caregivers and Children

Building a Healthy Foundation

Fostering a healthy foundation for today’s youth is what it’s all about for these speakers.

“I've been providing nutrition therapy for kids for over 15 years through one-on-one sessions and programs,” said Cormier. “Throughout my experience, I've seen how diet culture has negatively impacted kids’ nutrition practices, body image and behaviors that connect to their health.”

Marrero has led a segment on mindfulness and meditation at several Wellness Trails events, and is dedicated to the mission of this pediatric focus.

"There is a strong body of evidence that suggests the earlier children learn how to self soothe, regulate emotions, and control arousal levels, the healthier they are in adulthood,” he said. “I am passionate about being a part of this day because healthy children, equipped with tools such as mindfulness to handle life's stressors, will shape a thriving and healthy society for all. "

Dr. Spillane has treated patients with lung cancer for most of his career and is passionate about preventing cancer in future generations. He points out the irony that although kids have been raised to believe cigarette smoking is bad for their health, they don’t see the danger in vaping.

“There is a new national trend of teens using e-cigarettes and vaping that has been declared an epidemic by the FDA. Vaping and ‘Juuling’ is happening in every school on the Cape,” he said. “I have unfortunately seen it in as young as 6th graders. My role is to educate parents and kids both in terms of why this trend has emerged, and what the harmful effects are.”

Growing up in the age of social media can have its challenges. Dr. Rudman will explore the effects of social media on body image and self-esteem, as well as the impact of a healthy emotional state on relationships with food during a time when both obesity and eating disorders are becoming far too common.  "Being constantly connected, our kids live in the spotlight in which how they look, dress, live, eat, exercise, etc. may be under continual scrutiny -- both by their peers AND themselves.  Much of my day in the office is spent addressing these pressures, while at the same time teaching good health habits for life," she said.

Dr. Main will share his expertise on mental health in children.

“I have committed my entire life to helping kids grow up confident, competent, and compassionate. I couldn't miss this opportunity to reach out into the community to promote our vision of emotional wellbeing for kids,” he said.

Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds for Children and Teens, a Pediatric Wellness Trail will be held on Sunday, March 24th from 1-4 p.m. at the Resort and Conference Center of Hyannis. Wellness Trails are free and open the public, but registration is required as space is limited. Register here to reserve your spot. For additional information, call the Access Line at 877-227-3263.

Note: As of 5/1/2019, Emerald Physicians joined Medical Affiliates of Cape Cod (MACC), a division of primary and specialty care physicians from Cape Cod Healthcare.