Community Partnership Addresses Childhood Obesity, Seeks Funding from Foundations, Government, Individuals

St. John Providence Health System – Providence Hospital, Southfield Public Schools, the City of Southfield, and Lawrence Tech have agreed to partner on a community initiative to reduce childhood obesity, taking a national problem and working to solve it at a local level.

LTU President Virinder Moudgil, who helped spearhead the initiative at Lawrence Tech, is hopeful that foundations, individuals, and organizations, as well as state and federal sources will step up with funding to underwrite the cost.

The program called “SOARing from Pediatric Obesity to a Healthy Community” is based on a strategic planning process known as 

SOAR, which stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. It will guide a series of conversations among the key

 Jackie Stavros       
Jackie Stavros  

stakeholders—government, schools, health care professionals, academic researchers and families—to help design a strategy for implementing a healthy lifestyle among area children. The goal is to create a systems-based program to support healthy living and development focusing on assessment, prevention, and intervention.

College of Management Associate Professor and Director of the Doctorate in Business Administration program Jackie Stavros is author of The Thin Book of SOAR; Building Strengths-Based Strategy. She and Assistant Professor Matt Cole are working with the community partners utilizing the SOAR model.

They have teamed with Kathy LaRaia, vice president, St. John Providence Health System, who leads the Oncology and Weight Management Centers of Excellence. LaRaia and her colleagues have developed and piloted a program called “Rock On…and shine like a star” as part of their Pediatric Obesity Program.

Matt Cole  
Matt Cole  

“This is an adventure for kids – and their parents – towards becoming a healthier person. By engaging children in an interactive curriculum and dynamic process, they learn a lot of great things about eating habits, how to exercise, how to like themselves better, and have fun along the way,” said LaRaia. “The partnership with Lawrence Tech will really help take our program and deliver a replicable and scalable version to address childhood obesity across a broader base using the SOAR model. We are excited to be working together.”

“SOARing from Pediatric Obesity to a Healthy Community” is a complimentary and integrated initiative to “Let’s Move,” a childhood obesity initiative being promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama.


To support the effort, contact University Advancement at 248-204-2300 or A Growing Epidemic

Pediatric obesity is a growing epidemic the impact of which is felt at the national, state, and local levels.

Over the past two decades, the rate of childhood obesity has increased two-fold.

Approximately 25 percent of US children are now overweight.

70-80 percent of overweight children will become obese adults.

 Michigan adults have the ninth highest obesity rate in the nation.

Particularly alarming are rates in children as young as two years of age whose obesity rate has more than doubled over the last 30 years and more than tripled for children six to 11 years old