What do Mr. USA 2008, a former President of the American Osteopathic Association and LECOM have in common? They helped kick off the premiere of a new children's television program that begins airing this fall in Erie.
LECOM hosted the Premiere Party for Wellsville USA, a 13-episode television program that encourages children and their parents to take a mind, body, and spirit approach to healthy living. LECOM underwrote production for the first season of Wellsville which begins airing October 3 and every Saturday morning at eight on WXF_TV, the Erie FOX affiliate.
Prior to the preview the guests heard from LECOM Provost Silvia Ferretti, DO;Past AOA President Peter B. Ajluni, DO; and. Mr USA2008 Matthew Ivan Rusilko, a fourth-year medical student at LECOM.
Dr. Ferretti noted that in Pennsylvania one out of three school age children are overweight and that children who lack physical activity puts those children at higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis and even cancer.
"Working with children early in life to encourage one hour of physical activity each day, having them understand how to make the right food choices, and assisting our children to develop positive self esteem, will lay the proper foundation for a healthy adult life and prevent chronic disease," Dr. Ferretti explained to the parents in the audience. "The Wellsville USA Team and LECOM agreed that each program should address, in some way, the Mind/Body/Spirit or holistic approach to health and wellness. LECOM believes that health is a condition of the child and adult that makes possible the highest enjoyment of life. In fact, health is a quality of life and as such can be a continuous standard of inspiration and ever increasing achievement."
When Dr. Ajluni became the 111th AOA President in 2007, he challenged his fellow physicians to to set the example for their patients by focusing on health and fitness. Dr. Ajluni knows healthy living requires individual accountability when it comes to diet, nutrition, exercise and regular doctor visits. He understands that a physician can serve as a role model of health and fitness for their patients. His plan, Fit for Life, meant that instead of just talking the talk, physicians and their patients literally must get up and walk the walk.
"Did you know that approximately sixty-six percent of americans are overweight or obese?" Dr. Ajluni asked.
"At the rate we are going, by the year 2015, seventy-five percent of americans will be overweight or obese. And children are not immune to this epidemic. Why, the car seat manufacturers have had to increase the sizes of their car seats to accommodate for larger than normal babies!"
He added that through programs like Wellsville we can talk with our youth about how the decisions they make now impact their health in the future. "They’re at the stage in life where we can truly influence life-long behaviors and attitudes on prevention and wellness," he said.
Matthew Ivan Rusilko will graduate from LECOM in May 2010 with a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, but for the last year, he's traveled overseas as Mr. USA 2008 and placed 15th in the Mr. International competition in Tawain last year.
"Now one might say that being Mister USA and being a future doctor have nothing in common, but I beg to differ," Rusilko said. "LECOM prepared me in many ways with the abilities I needed to do what I did for one full year. The knowledge I gained mentally in health, anatomy, and nutrition helped me create a great exercise and diet plan to keep me in shape for all the photo shoots and appearances that were required. The experience in dealing with patients helped enabled me to confront any and all situations and deal with them effectively."
Wellsville USA is the creation of Tony Snow, MD and his wife Kathy Iorio. Both have been lifelong advocates of exercise, nutrition and self-esteem programs for children. "It is our heart felt desire to use education and entertainment to bring home these healthy messages and lead to positive behavioral changes in the lives of our viewers, said Dr. Snow, "Good health comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, skin colors, and abilities and we feel that we all can make a positive difference in the lives of our families, children and communities."
The TV show contains segments on exercise, nutrition and self-esteem. Each show has a medical theme such as the lungs, the heart, germs, immunizations, etc. The Healthy Hollow segment features LECOM physicians who discuss how the body works and how physicians help the body heal itself when a child is ill or injured. Other segments talk about money management, hometown heroes and other health and fitness related issues.