“Growing Up” helps preteens navigate changes

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The team at Thibodaux Regional passionately strives to aid the community in every way possible, in sickness and in wellness. Too many people are afraid of hospitals and doctors because they symbolize things that are weak, sick, or broken; this is a sad misconception, though! Doctors work toward helping patients achieve their health and wellness goals, making them symbols of goodness and strength. The dedicated workers at Thibodaux Regional embody this position of fitness to welcome patients and to help them; they have even taken steps to extend that wellness invitation to the youth of the city. 


Growing Up is a program offered at the Thibodaux Wellness Center to explain healthy habits and mindsets to young kids in the area. There are two classes, both offered in the evening after school, that kids can attend with a parent or trusted guardian of the same sex. Girls between the ages of nine and twelve-years-old are taught by Registered Nurse Katie Richard and boys between nine and thirteen-years-old are taught by Physical Therapist Billy Naquin. 


In these classes, students learned about the changes adolescents experience while getting older and going through puberty. Topics include what these physical changes to the body are, why they happen, and how to take care of their bodies during this confusing process. They cover the appropriate ways for kids to take care of themselves, like minding personal hygiene, ensuring to participate in daily activity, and consuming the proper nutrition. Richard and Naquin also take time to discuss mental health with the children, including self-esteem, body-image issues, and maintaining healthy and productive relationships with family and peers. 


Richard explains that the program allows kids to “walk away from the class with more confidence and less fear about their bodies and the changes that will take place over the years.” They focus on proving that each child is different and unique, they will grow and change differently from their friends, and that it is okay to experience these changes in their own way, at their own pace. Richard says that they “encourage them to feel good about their uniqueness so that they do not judge themselves against anyone else their age.” It is so important for kids at this formidable age to understand the significance of physical and mental health, and the team at Thibodaux Regional strives to do just that. By getting at the root of the confusion, by instructing these kids about their bodies and about healthy living, they are successfully “planting the concept of personal responsibility and understanding in [their] bodies.” 


Classes are offered in the evenings on weeknights; parents and guardians can register their children for classes on the Thibodaux Regional website at www.thibodaux.com or call the Wellness Education Center of Thibodaux Regional at 985-493-4765. Parents and guardians should also attend these classes and become familiar with the discussion topics so that later on at home they can continue to educate and explain to their children the answers to potentially tough questions. Because of COVID-19 social-distancing guidelines, classes are split in half so that each child and parent are safely accommodated. Growing Up is an on-going program that has been successful in teaching children bodily autonomy and understanding for three years now. Their mission is progressive, necessary, and it helps the children of today become successful, healthy, and happy adults of tomorrow.