Earlier in the year, a colleague had recommended Baptist Health’s Healthy and Active Youth Program (HAYP) after listening to my concerns about my son, Isaiah’s, disinterest in physical activity. After the raving review I received from my coworker, I was already investigating the program, but reading the goals and exercises outlined in the HAYP information packet sealed the deal. Isaiah is on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout. Coincidentally, the activities for HAYP mirror the requirements needed for his personal fitness and family life merit badges.
Our first meeting of the program had the potential to become a disaster, but Natalie, the program leader, was extremely accommodating. When we arrived, we realized that Isaiah was the only boy in the program. To make him feel more at ease, Natalie offered to extend the admission deadline. This allowed us to invite another scout from our troop to join the class.
The weekly car rides to Baptist Health for HAYP became a bonding experience for our family. We used that time to discuss everything we learned from our sessions and develop imaginative ways to earn our merit badges. I remember the car ride home the week that the boys received their fitness trackers. They were so excited that they downloaded the health app as soon as we got in the car ー and talked nonstop about their new gadgets the entire way home!
The sessions were always entertaining. Isaiah learned to cook a healthy alternative to fried rice using a spice blend he created in class! HAYP was also so informative that we extended some of the learned practices into our home life. My husband and I enjoyed watching the boys soar through the routine while we were pleasantly challenged in the background.
We were halfway through the program when COVID-19 disrupted our sessions, but the positive impact that HAYP had on our family was evident even in that amount of time. We learned to work together toward collective goals, encourage each other through challenges, and make choices that support our overall health and well-being.
I know from experience that deciding to get healthy is tough to do on your own. That’s why I’m so grateful that our entire family was able to support Isaiah in the Baptist Health HAYP program.
Thank you to Baptist Health’s Healthy and Active Youth Program for providing this opportunity to the families of Arkansas.