Brenner FIT Receives $200,000 from Mebane Foundation, Reaches Partnership Agreement with YMCA of Northwest North Carolina

November 13, 2012

The Brenner FIT Program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center has received a $200,000 challenge grant from the Mebane Foundation to establish a new teaching kitchen that will be housed at Winston-Salem’s William G. White Jr. Family YMCA.

Brenner FIT (Families In Training) is one of the nation’s most comprehensive programs for combating childhood obesity, from intensive, family based weight management to community outreach. Its new teaching kitchen will be made possible through the grant funding and a partnership with the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, which serves 70,000 members in Alexander, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Stokes, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.

The collaboration promises to expand the number of patients and community members who benefit from Brenner FIT’s novel approach to fighting childhood obesity. The teaching kitchen will feature eight cooking stations for classes ranging from 12 to 20 participants. After a presentation on nutrition, families will gain hands-on experiences, including cooking, nutrition education and meal planning.

Families learn that healthy meals can be tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare. Children learn about new foods, and parents gain valuable skills to address picky eating habits of children, cooking on a budget and meal planning.

The teaching kitchen also will provide a safe environment where families can come together under the supportive guidance of the multidisciplinary Brenner FIT team.

“Weight problems in families are a source of tension and stress,” said Joseph Skelton, M.D., M.S., director of Brenner FIT and associate professor of pediatrics, epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest Baptist. “When we can turn the situation into one where family members support each other in a positive way, everyone wins.”

The grant is contingent upon Wake Forest Baptist raising an additional $225,000 to support Brenner FIT, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on Saturday, Nov. 10. Staff, families and community partners gathered at the Paul J. Ciener Botanical Garden in Kernersville to mark the occasion. Families in the program often visit the botanical garden to harvest fresh produce and learn about smart food choices.

“Addressing childhood obesity is a high priority of both Wake Forest Baptist and the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina,” Skelton said. “We are grateful to the Mebane Foundation for their leadership, which will enable us to vastly increase our outreach to families in our region and beyond, and to the YMCA for partnering with us.”

Larry C. Colbourne, president of the Mebane Foundation, said he hopes the gift inspires others to support the program.

“The Mebane Foundation awarded this challenge grant to help establish this beneficial teaching kitchen and also to leverage additional contributions from the community,” Colbourne said. “Brenner FIT is an incredible resource for our region, and our hope is that others will join us in financially supporting this wonderful program.”

Established in 1998 and based in Mocksville, N.C., the Mebane Foundation makes grants primarily in North Carolina to support education.

Brenner FIT uses a family-centered, evidence-based approach to weight management, and relies on the latest in research-proven methods to improve the weight and health of children and their families. It has reached more than 25,000 people through its clinics, educational presentations and outreach programs over the past five years.

The program includes the whole family in the treatment process, and focuses on changing habits and behaviors, rather than simply promoting diets and exercises. A team of pediatricians, behavioral counselors, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and exercise specialists works with individuals and families who participate in the program.

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Eric Whittington:, 336-716-5318

Chad Campbell:, 336-713-4587