Rosi Wurster

Helping Kids Improve Mental Health Through Exercise

Tuesday, July 18, 2023 | Community Outreach
Keeping kids healthy is no small task. As a mom, I’ve had first-hand experience. Worrying about my daughter and son from the time they were born, my husband and I have done our best to get them to eat vegetables, brush their teeth, look both ways when crossing the street, and do all the other things humans can do to stay alive and well, physically and mentally.

Staying active is another thing we’ve reinforced with our kids to help them have the healthiest life possible. Camping, outdoor exploring, yoga, and working out have been such a big part of my life, and my husband loves long distance bike riding, fly fishing and golf. By taking part in them and getting our son and daughter involved, too, we’ve enjoyed showing our kids how fun exercise can be. Our family has so many happy memories of long hikes in the Pennsylvania mountains, fishing in North Carolina, and attending softball games, 5k races and rugby matches.

And that amazing thing about exercise? Its rewards are so much more than physical.

The CDC notes a long list of the benefits of exercise for kids in association with physical activity guidelines . I found it interesting that the agency placed the reduced risk of depression near the very top of the list. And given these trying times for kids, I see so much opportunity for us, as adults, to encourage them to boost their mental health through exercise -- especially those who might not typically have opportunities to do so.

I’m proud to say that Bayhealth is taking action to help make this happen. One of the ways we’re striving to make a difference is being a sponsor of Girls on the Run, which inspires girls to “build their confidence, kindness and decision making skills” and helps instill life skills “including the important connection between physical and emotional health.” Along with helping girls in grades 3 to 8 build physical fitness, the organization provides encouragement from volunteer run buddies (aged 16 years old or older) and coaches, and opportunities to learn about teamwork and working towards a goal.

Bayhealth recently provided support to the organization’s Delaware chapter and sent 60 volunteers to help at the Spring Season Celebratory South 5K. Our event volunteers staffed first-aid and water stations, presented medals, and supplied headbands. In addition, one of our ENT doctors developed and shared pre-race preparation tips with the 600 5K participants. We’re thrilled to be involved with this inspiring organization and look forward to continuing our support at the fall South 5K run — and beyond.

I’m also proud that Bayhealth is a premier sponsor for the Delaware chapter of Free Bikes for Kids (FB4K), an organization that furnishes donated bicycles for kids in need. Our Bayhealth volunteers joined together with other organizations this past MLK Day to assemble bikes for FB4K Delaware. They also staffed a bike giveaway hosted by Bayhealth and Delaware State University in April, where they fitted kids for helmets (generously provided by our Medical Staff Fund) and taught kids how to ride. Our volunteers will help gather more bikes in the future and the MLK Day bike assembly will become an annual event at our organization.

We’re also helping kids stay active and healthy through our partnership with DE Turf Sports Complex. A multi-use 12-field facility owned by a 501c3 non-profit, the complex is host to local sports clubs and teams, community events, and regional and national tournaments. Bayhealth lends support by sponsoring a playing field, along with kids’ team jerseys. As a sponsor, we’re honored to participate in special events at DE Turf, such as the upcoming, first-ever Back-to-School Event in August – a fun and active way for school-aged kids to wind down the time leading up to the first day of class.

These partnerships are just a few of the strategies we’re using to address an important goal: improving mental health in Kent and Sussex counties. The Community Health Needs Assessment we conducted last year clarified that healthcare need. As we continue to look for more ways to help kids stay active and healthy, physically and mentally, I’m honored to help lead an organization committed to these worthy and vital efforts. And, from one parent to another, let’s all encourage our children to be active this summer.

Rosi Wurster, DNP, RN, MPH, NEA-BC, CEN, is the chief nurse executive at Bayhealth.

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