Trenton, NJ, December 30, 2005
A program that measures the effect of intervention on the
synergistic relationship between exercise, nutrition, cardiovascular
health and self-esteem in adolescent girls will continue, thanks to
a $15,000 grant the Women’s Heart Foundation received from the Horizon
Foundation for New Jersey and an additional $25,000 of support from
the state of New Jersey. The program also received a commitment of continued
support of in-kind services
from the Rutgers University Department of Nursing in Camden for the
The three-year Teen Esteem program and project, which began as a pilot
in the 2004-2005 school year, is an all-girl gym-alternative at
the Trenton Central High School. Now in its second year, organizers
have refined the curriculum and are ready to branch out
into other school districts. "We have a more comprehensive and defined
exercise routine and nutrition program, responding to requests from both the
fitness experts and the teacher, and we’ve developed a new
activities manual with health curriculum that contains all the elements of the
program for 10th-grade girls so now it can be easily replicated,"said Bonnie Arkus, Women’s
Heart Foundation executive director who also serves as the Teen
Esteem Project Manager. "These grants have allowed us to hire the
staff and purchase the supplies we need to continue this great program," she said. The
program employs a project manager, two certified fitness
trainers, each who works one day per week, and a registered
dietitian every two weeks for "hands-on" nutrition days with preparation of
healthy foods recipes in the Teen Esteem test kitchen.
Volunteer students from The College of New Jersey Department
of Nursing provide mentoring support and assist with the
collection of research data. Other parts of the curriculum
are being shared by the school nurse for personal teen health
and hygiene, and the counselors from the school’s Youth
Services Program, covering topics on normal teen development,
teen esteem and community resources. The health curriculum is being
implemented by head teacher Constance Kelley who oversees the
entire program and staff, in partnership with the Women's Heart
Foundation and stakeholders of the program.
"The girls really seem to be enjoying the program and the
routine", said Kelly. "They get dressed into their
gym clothes and they work out. In co-ed gym class, they would refuse
to participate, accepting a failing grade rather than exercising in
front of the boys, so this is a much better arrangement". Dr. Kathleen
C. Ashton, PhD, APRN, BC, Clinical Associate Professor of Nursing at
Rutgers University Camden is the study's principal investigator who
reports that the research is also going more smoothly this year.
"We’ve completed a lipid panel on all 120 participants, along with
height, weight, waist circumference, BMI and blood pressure.
The testing will be repeated at the end of the school year",
said Ashton. "We’re using an instrument from the Centers for
Disease Control to measure physical activity, nutrition and
self-esteem. Each student has completed a 6-page survey form
and students in regular gym class have completed the form as
well as part of their health curriculum", said Dr. Ashton.
"Preliminary results indicate that the majority of
students do not eat breakfast, and have diets severely
lacking in fruits and vegetables. Several participants
have had severely low blood sugar readings and some have
been found to have low HDL levels, which are consistent with
poor nutrition habits. HDL cholesterol, often referred to as
the ‘Healthy Cholesterol’, is what protects against heart
disease by keeping plaque from building up on artery walls.
HDL cholesterol can be raised by regular vigorous physical
activity and by a diet that is high in monounsaturated fat,
contained in olive oil and nut oils.
There is a focus on understanding food labels, making healthy
choices and involving the family and community, so Teen Esteem
organizers are planning a family health night in January and
a field trip to Wegmans in the spring, for a repeat of its highly
successful Shopping for a Healthy Heart, implemented with five
dietitians from the UMDNJ School of Dietetic Internships. "We believe it’s important
to know where you can locate healthier foods on the supermarket shelf
and how to read and interpret food labels and Wegmans
and the UMDNJ have been tremendous health partners in this effort. Through this
collaboration, we have been able to give the students a wonderful
learning experience," said Ms. Arkus. "Empowering these
young consumers sets the stage for a lifetime of healthier choices".
Teen Esteem is a program of the Women's Heart Foundation that is
being implemented with a health study in partnership with the
Rutgers University Department of Nursing, and the Youth Services
Program and Health and Physical Education Departments at Trenton
Central High School.
The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey promotes health, well-being,
and quality of life in New Jersey’s communities. Priority areas
include health, the arts, and education.
The Women's Heart Foundation is a public-supported charity dedicated
to prevention of heart disease and to improving women’s survival and
quality of life. For more information about the Teen Esteem program,
go to www.womensheart.org. You may contact WHF by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org and request a free Teen Esteem video CD.
Consultation is by appointment only. WHF, P.O. Box 7827, West Trenton,