Health Check: Care New England launches health initiative for employees, children

An interactive health program at Care New England encourages its employees and their children to get healthy together.

This is the second month 10-year-old Michael DiDomenico and his mother, Nicole Ferrazzano, have gone online to take part in an interactive health program.

"The name of the program is called Healthy Together and what the research has found, and this is no surprise, is that the best way to get healthy is as a family," said Domenic Delmonico of Care New England.

"Actually, I had started on my own fitness and weight loss regiment myself, so when I saw the flyers at work, I said, 'Oh, this is a good idea,'" Ferrazzano said.

Healthy Together was developed by Pro-Change Behavior Systems and it's being offered free of charge to Care New England employees and their families.

The idea is to engage children between the ages of 10 and 18 with online programs about exercise and nutrition, and there are incentives. In this case, iTunes gift cards are given to children. Each month they participate, the amount of the card increases.

"The iTunes gift card was a great incentive for my daughter," said Christa Andrews, who works at Kent Hospital and is participating.

Her daughter is 16 years old.

"It gave her ideas on how to get healthier," Andrews said.

"It think it's a good program for little kids and adults because it can make you more active, like lose weight," DiDomenico said.

Ferrazzano has done just that.

"Since we started, I actually lost about 15 pounds," she said.

The program is for all Care New England hospitals and it includes the Thundermist Community Health Center.

More than 85 children and 250 adults are taking part in the six-month program. After one month, DiDomenico has already earned a $25 iTunes card and he's eating some vegetables he didn't touch before.

"He's been having peas, corn. He loves edamame," Ferrazzano said.

"I learned to eat five vegetables and fruits a day and play 60 minutes," DiDomenico said.

Last year, Care New England offered smoking cessation incentive programs for its employees. The employees earned money for signing up and participating. In the end, out of more than 200 people who signed up, 60 quit smoking and are still smoke-free.