Bikes for Kids fights obesity, help for tiny babies

An Arkansas foundation has donated bicycles to a Little Rock school to help prevent childhood obesity. Positive touch helps premies thrive.
An Arkansas foundation has donated bicycles to a Little Rock school to help prevent childhood obesity.

Today the Derek Lewis Foundation rolled out 60 brand new bikes and helmets for pre-k students at Washington Elementary.

The foundation's "Bikes for Kids" mission is to promote health and fitness in high poverty communities for disadvantaged children.

Dr. Derek Lewis established his foundation in 1993. The organization helps inspire Arkansas' youth through science, arts, athletics and summer workshops.

Help for tiny babies

Jennifer Marks would hold her newborn twins all day long if she could.

She says, "I come here every single day to spend time with them. I'm here most of the day, usually early afternoon until nighttime."

Emme and Sabrina were born about 2 months early. They're doing well but still need medical care. That means mom can't hold them as much as she'd like or take them home.

Jennifer says, "You can't be the Mom you quite want to be."

Victoria Kunkel with the Cleveland Clinic says, "When a baby is born premature all of those positive touch healthy full term baby experiences just being at home are kind of taken away."

Premies endure a host of painful, but necessary, medical procedures. Some studies suggest up to 14 every day.

Dr. Kunkel says, "Knowing that we do a lot in the NICU to counteract those negative experiences."

Victoria and her team at Cleveland Clinic use “positive touch.” The babies are touched very gently to help them thrive and grow. Special swaddlers and positioners are also used and some are even shaped like a parent's hand.

"It's designed so that Moms can sleep with the hand so it has Mom or Dad's scent and it's also designed to comfort the baby and give positive touch in the parent's absence."

Once a baby is stable, kangaroo care is another form of 'positive touch' where a baby is placed directly onto a parent's chest, skin to skin.

Dr. Kunkel says: "It brings their heart rate down. It brings their respiratory rate down. It decreases their stress levels. It also really helps Mom and Dad."

"Just these little chances of holding them and to feel your baby against your chest is… there's no words to describe how wonderful it is," Jennifer says.

While clinical forms of 'positive touch' are beneficial, Jennifer believes her twins benefit most from one another.

"I personally feel they need each other and when they have the comfort of their sister, it stabilizes them."

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