• Maggie Goldsmith

Helping Neighbors: Health & Wellness for our Island Youth


Most parents probably don't think about what cholesterol means for their kids. But high levels of cholesterol are a major factor contributing to heart disease and stroke, and medical research shows that cardiovascular disease has its roots in childhood. And with the dramatic increase in childhood obesity, more and more kids are at risk.

Sara first came to F.I.S.H. when her daughter’s pediatrician ordered a full blood panel due to a higher than average BMI. “I didn’t understand it, since Emma isn’t overweight per say, she’s just a big kid, above average height and weight for her age. But, the doctor said we needed to keep an eye on blood sugars and cholesterol and other things. Wow, I thought high cholesterol and diabetes was just an adult concern.” Sara requested emergency financial assistance for medical reasons, since her household is uninsured and she is underemployed. During the intake process, F.I.S.H. discovered that Sara could use additional assistance from the Food Pantry as well as the children’s Backpack Program, since her job was low-paying and she was having difficulties keeping enough food in the house. Sara broke down, feeling that her inability to make more money was the cause of her pediatrician’s concern. “I don’t keep a lot of food in the house, and I am always grabbing something on the go for me and Emma. She plays a lot of sports and is always hungry. It just seemed to be a better (and cheaper) option to grab something from the convenience store rather than make it at home. Because of that, our entire household is unhealthy, in so many ways. I just don’t know what to do anymore.”

Through case management and client counseling, F.I.S.H. explained to Sara that there are ways to make healthier food choices while living on a budget, and informed her of upcoming nutrition, health and wellness seminars offered by F.I.S.H. “Living healthier is a family affair,” stated Nitza Lopez, F.I.S.H. Case Manager. “Kids usually aren't the only ones at risk, so it's important to make this a family effort. The steps you take to improve your family's lifestyle can have a positive effect on your family's health not only now, but far into the future.”

About a month later, Sara and Emma visited F.I.S.H. and happily reported that her cholesterol and blood sugar levels were within the healthy range, although on the high-end of healthy. Both Sara and Emma thanked F.I.S.H. for their support and concern, and both are looking forward to learning more about health and nutrition.

For additional information on F.I.S.H. programming, please contact Nitza Lopez, Case Manager, at 239-472-4775.


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