When Rees, 17, says that she appreciates that the staff at the Healthy Lifestyles Center (HLC) at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU supports her and catches her when she falls, she doesn’t mean it figuratively. I
n addition to being diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency and hypothyroidism, Rees has intractable epilepsy, which means that she is at risk of periodic seizures. When her parents, Nancy and Danny, started becoming concerned about her weight and eating habits, the family was referred to the HLC which offers a team including psychologists, dietitians, and exercise specialists. By working with an exercise specialist at the HLC, the family knew that Rees would receive proper exercise training and also be monitored constantly in case she has a seizure. “
I had a seizure during my first appointment,” Rees says with a small laugh. “But they had my back. I learned you can count on your buddies.”
In the two years since she first came to the HLC, Rees has made great progress. She appreciates the variety of exercises as well as the personalized playlists of music the team plans for her. Today, she is able to run at higher speeds for a longer period of time, is able to lift heavier weights, and is much more mindful of how diet affects her body and how she feels overall.
“I didn’t know exercise could be so much fun,” Rees says. “This place will change your life—guaranteed.”