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Kinesiology students team up to work with kids, community on Vikings Fitness Playbook study

A three-year program supported by the Vikings Children's Fund and designed to help kids manage their weight and increase their physical activity has given some Kinesiology undergraduates the chance to apply their knowledge to working with kids in the community.

The Vikings Playbook Study was featured in a Minnesota Daily article on Nov. 16. It's a collaboration between the Vikings and the U of M's Department of Pediatrics to help kids at risk for overweight and their families to improve health through changes to diet and increased physical activity. A dozen Kinesiology undergraduates meet with children and their families each week as PALs -- Physical Activity Leaders -- as part of the program's "immersion" experience at the U of M.

Ten children ages 8-16 enrolled in the program on a recommendation from their doctors because they are in the 95th to 99th weight percentile. By participating, their family also gets a year-long membership at a LifeTime Fitness center.

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The program is also a platform for pediatric heart research. The Vikings Children's Fund has worked closely with the University's Department of Pediatrics for many years to fund seed research, and is now expanding their focus to more visible community outreach.

Vikings players that take interest in certain medical areas have taken the initiative to help out the University over the years, said Joe Neglia, head of the Pediatrics Department. Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson and his wife held dinners for hospitalized families, for example. Brett Favre donated $200,000 to a program that outfits rooms at Amplatz Children's Hospital with special technology.

Dr. Don Denge
l, associate professor and director of the School of Kinesiology's Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology, and Dr. George Biltz, Kinesiology lecturer, collaborate with Dr. Aaron S. Kelly in the Department of Pediatrics on the program.

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