ORONO – Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center was awarded a $100,000 grant from the New Balance Foundation to fight childhood obesity.
“New Balance Foundation for the last almost 20 years has stood behind the prevention of childhood obesity,” said Megan Bloch, the senior global philanthropy director for the New Balance Foundation.
“That is our core mission and vision. To reverse the childhood obesity trend,” she said.
This grant will support the hospital’s Way to Optimal Weight, or WOW, pediatric weight management program.
“For our team at WOW this is so significant,” said Valerie O’Hara, a pediatric obesity specialist for the Bangor hospital.
WOW is a clinic that was was started almost 11 years ago. It is a team of pediatric obesity specialists and personal trainers.
These specialists and trainers provide individualized treatments to meet the goal of the patient.
“Pediatric obesity unfortunately is an epidemic not only nationally but globally. In our own state roughly 30 percent of our children have overweight or obesity,” O’Hara said.
O’Hara said that equals roughly 60,000 kids in Maine.
The grant will be used to strengthen WOW’s family focused care of children in Maine.
O’Hara said it’ll focus on their telemedicine program to rural and under served areas.
“Being able to take care of patients and families in their own hometown in collaboration with their primary care provider is the model that we want to continue to pursue and how best to do that,” O’Hara said.
New Balance Athletics has three manufacturing facilities in Maine, employing more than 700 people. Their foundation has supported Maine-based nonprofits for decades.
“For us, it’s really an opportunity to take this state of the art work across a state that’s meaningful to us,” Bloch said. “We have all the faith in this partnership, in Northern Light Health and in Val and her team to do that. To really change the overall health and wellness of kids.”