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Sunrider Donates $1.75 Million to Support Childhood Exercise Training for Physicians and Educators
Sunrider International recently donated $1.75 million to the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center (PERC) at UC Irvine School of Medicine. The donation from Sunrider supports a PERC initiative to introduce standardized curriculum for training physicians and educators to prescribe targeted physical activities for children. PERC is building a growing body of evidence that demonstrates healthy children, and children with chronic disease and disability, could benefit from the health effects of exercise in their youth and throughout their lives.

The $1.75 million gift from Sunrider was inspired by Sunrider Vice President of Business Development and UCI School of Medicine alumnus, Dr. Reuben K. Chen. Sunrider is a leading manufacturer and distributor of all-natural, GMO-free herbal nutritional foods, beverages, supplements, fitness and weight-loss products, household products, and cutting-edge skin care products.

Dr. Chen, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, is an advocate for giving physicians and educators better information and tools to improve childhood health through exercise: “When most people, including physicians, tell a child they need to exercise, they say, ‘Go exercise and you’ll be okay,’ said Dr. Chen. “But, most children don’t know what that means. It could mean anything from jumping on a trampoline to riding a bike to maybe even just walking around outside. The prescription needs to be more detailed.

“One of the most important things about this program is that it’s for professionals, including our physicians, our teachers, coaches, and PE teachers,” Dr. Chen said. “The research PERC is doing is going to be vital to understanding how to best keep our kids healthy and to use exercise as an actual medicine in the longevity of our children, so they grow up healthy and strong.”

Once completed and tested, the program will be made available to physicians through continuing education in workshops and online. At UCI, medical students and residents will also have the opportunity to experience the beneficial effects of exercise as mentors to children in research studies investigating the beneficial effects of exercise for such conditions as cancer, spina bifida, and asthma.

Phase two of this multi-year effort will focus on exercise awareness training for K-12 coaches, teachers, and administrators. The intent is to introduce a common set of exercise concepts for clinicians and educators that promote a consistent approach to physical activity for school children. The project will also explore how schools might report fitness test data to treating physicians as a means to paint a more comprehensive picture of a child’s physical fitness.

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