Way to Optimal Weight (WOW) Program

What is WOW?

WOW is a tiered program for children and adolescents, age 4-19, with body mass index (BMI) at or above the 85th percentile. The program is designed for children who are at higher risk for weight-related health problems.

Our aim is to assist patients and their families implement changes to positively affect the diagnosis of obesity and related comorbidities.

The WOW program provides medical intervention, education, and fun physical activity to help motivate young people to make healthier choices for a lifetime.

There are three phases:

Phase I: 8 weekly session
Phase II: 2 sessions per month for 6 sessions
Phase III: 1 session per month for 6 sessions (as needed)

All sessions will incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity directed by the personal trainer.
Eat right...be active...get healthy with us!!


Meet Our Team

Dr. O’Hara brings 16 years of pediatric weight management experience to her families and community. She received her board certification in Obesity Medicine in 2013 via the American Board of Obesity Medicine. She began this focused work as part of the Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative in 2000.  She has been involved with Let’s Go as a Physician Champion, visiting the Primary Care Practices in the EMHS region since 2010. Recently, Dr.O’Hara presented research data at the National Fall OMA Conference in Washington, D.C.  As an advocate for her patients, she shared her WOW experience with the Dept. of Defense in Washington, DC and with former Gov. Baldacci. She also serves on the MaineCare Provider Advisory Board. She is a member of The Obesity Society and the Obesity Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. O’Hara graduated from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1996 and completed her Pediatric Residency at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center in 1999.  Dr. O’Hara is passionate about her patients and is dedicated to improving the health of the families she works with.
Starr’s 23 years of nursing coincided with the military lifestyle as she and her family moved to various states and countries. This allowed her to gain nursing experience in many types of cultures. Starr enjoyed the opportunity to work in many different settings including adult care, psychiatric nursing, and pediatrics. Upon her husband’s retirement from the military in 2002, they moved to Maine. Starr’s interest in pediatric weight management peaked when she became involved in MYOC (Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative) in 2004.  She continues to attend various seminars and conferences, allowing her to network with many experts in this field.  Starr enthusiastically shares this knowledge with children and families in a fun interactive environment at WOW.  She has presented and co-presented WOW in various primary care clinics as well as the State of Maine AAP conference in 2012.  Starr‘s special interest is serving as teacher and preceptor for nursing students; currently working with students from UMO and Husson University.
Nancy is a pediatric nurse practitioner who is joining the WOW program team. Nancy graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a BSN in 1977 and from Boston College with MS, PNP degree in 1993. Nancy practiced as a RN at EMMC and MMC until 1993 and then as PNP in pediatric surgery at MMC through 2003. From 2004-2008, Nancy practiced at the University of Illinois/Chicago’s Pediatric Weight Management Program as a provider and clinic coordinator. Nancy & her husband returned home to Maine in 2010; Nancy’s professional time in recent years has been centered on writing, presenting, and advocating for pediatric obesity care.
Kathrin obtained her master of science in nursing at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston and has 15 years of experience as a family nurse practitioner.  Much of her career has been spent working with underserved populations in Maine and Alabama.  Her special interest lies in pediatrics and for the past 7 ½ years she has had the privilege of working with the pediatric population in a school-based health center as the provider and coordinator of the program and has helped the program develop and grow from less than 300 enrolled students at its start to over 800 enrolled today.  She enjoys working with children and adolescents, helping them to make healthy choices by providing them with the education and resources to do so.  When not working, Kathrin enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and three children and is looking forward to camping, hiking, and gardening with her family this summer.
Lauri is the registered dietitian at the WOW program.  She earned her BS at the University of Maine and her MS at Tufts University in Human Nutrition and Dietetics.  She completed her clinical training at New England Medical Center in Boston.  Lauri brings 20 years of experience as registered dietitian and 15 years as a certified diabetes educator to the WOW program.  She not only works at the WOW program with children, but at the Diabetes Endocrine and Nutrition Center with both children and adults.  Lauri serves as a preceptor for the University of Maine Dietetic Internship program, and has been active in her community serving on the school board and wellness committee advocating for wellness initiatives in the school system. 
Dr. Prescott completed her BA with majors in Psychology and Spanish at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN.  She earned an MA and PhD in Psychology with a Clinical major, minors in Developmental and Community Psychology, and a Rural specialty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  As part of her PhD, she completed a pre-doctoral internship at the Indiana University School of Medicine.  She directs a rural health consulting practice for women and children, Hampden Psychological Consultation, PLLC, and helped develop the integrated behavioral health component of Eastern Maine Medical Center’s pediatric obesity program, Way to Optimal Weight (WOW).  Dr. Prescott is an adjunct professor for the University of Maine-Orono.  She volunteers on the Maine Migrant Health Program and Maine Primary Care Association boards and has chaired the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Rural Health (CRH).  She currently serves on the APA and APA Practice Organization (APAPO) Boards of Directors as Member at Large (presently the Board liaison to the Finance Committee, Board of Professional Affairs, and Committee on International Relations in Psychology).  She also represents the Maine Psychological Association and the APA/APAPO as a Federal Advocacy Coordinator.
Our team also includes Certified Personal Trainers at the UMaine New Balance Recreation Center and psychology Doctoral Students from the University of Maine, Orono. 

More About the WOW Program

WOW is divided into 3 Phases:

Phase 1: 8 weekly visits, includes medical, behavioral and dietary consultations
Phase 2: 6 bi-weekly visits, includes follow-up behavioral and dietary visits
Phase 3: 6 monthly visits, includes follow-up behavioral and dietary visits

Visits thereafter are based on clinical evaluation of individual patient’s needs and related co-morbidities status. Families and the WOW team will work together to determine what will work best for each child.
At your first visit, you will meet with Dr. O’Hara, a pediatrician who is board certified in Obesity Medicine, for a complete intake and evaluation of your child’s health status.  Our mission is to understand what your goals and concerns are as we create a tailored care plan that is unique to your child.

As part of our comprehensive clinic, each session will include time with our providers and our nurse. We believe that the best learning occurs when kids are engaged and the information is shared in interactive, fun and creative ways.  The diagnosis of obesity and the related health issues are complex, yet our goal is to provide education that is practical for busy families in today’s environment.
Included as part of our assessment and treatment, patients receive nutritional counseling with our Registered Dietitian.  Our Psychologist provides support and counseling to help create goals toward positive health changes.

Each appointment provides one on one time at the state of the art UMaine New Balance Recreation Center with our Certified Personal Trainers. The focus is to teach patients and families that physical activity can be FUN!

Dear Friend:

If you have enrolled your child in our program, we’d like to welcome you and your entire family! We know that weight management (and healthy choices) is truly a family affair! We have designed our program to not only help your child, but also provide support and resources for you.

On this site, resources about health concerns related to unhealthy weight and elevated body mass index (BMI).

If you are visiting our website for the first time and are thinking about the WOW program, I’d like to introduce you to our exciting collaboration between Eastern Maine Medical Center and the University of Maine. Our program, called the WOW (Way to Optimal Weight) program is a multidisciplinary option for overweight children 15 months - 19 years of age with a BMI in the ≥ 85th percentile. WOW is a Let's Go! site of distinction.

The WOW program includes a complete medical evaluation and treatment for unhealthy weight, as well as the numerous related consequences including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, low self esteem and many more.

All sessions will incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity directed by the Personal Trainer. These fun activities are provided at no additional cost to our families at the University of Maine Recreation Center.

Our team of weight management experts includes: a pediatrician, a registered nurse, a registered dietician, a psychologist, and a personal trainer, as well as students from related programs at the University of Maine such as psychology, physical education, and nursing).

To provide ongoing maintenance and support once change has begun, the WOW program is divided into 3 Phases:

Phase One: 8 Weekly sessions
Phase Two: 6 Bi-Monthly sessions
Phase Three: Ongoing, based on individual patient/family needs

This is a comprehensive, family-centered approach that offers ongoing support as changes are implemented during each phase.

Recognizing and rewarding achievements are important elements in bolstering our participants’ motivation to achieve their goals and maintain healthy choices in food and activity. We celebrate their achievements, and provide prizes and motivational tools to keep them committed to their progress.

On behalf of the WOW team, thank you for enrolling your child. We are dedicated to helping your child live a healthier life and having fun on the way! If you would like more information on the WOW program, please don’t hesitate to call our office.

Our office number is 207-581-4969.

Valerie O’Hara, DO
Dear Colleague:

You’ve seen the news reports, you’ve heard the presentations at our conferences: pediatric obesity and overweight are really significant health problems in our communities. Over the past 30 years, the prevalence of pediatric obesity has increased dramatically across all age groups. For children aged 2–5 years, prevalence increased from 5.0% to 12.4%; for those aged 6–11 years, prevalence increased from 6.5% to 17.0%; and for those aged 12–19 years, prevalence increased from 5.0% to 17.6%. Nearly 20% of Maine’s young people are obese or overweight, and studies have shown that 80% of obese young people (age 10-15 yrs old) become obese adults.

As primary care providers, we are in a crucial position to help these patients and their families learn about achieving optimal weight through improved nutrition and increased physical activity.

We began the WOW program in the 2009. WOW stands for Way to Optimal Weight. It’s a multidisciplinary, tiered approach to helping kids who are overweight or obese and age 15 months to 19 years old learn how to have fun, adopt healthy eating habits, appreciate how their good choices and bad choices affect their health, and understand the circumstances that lead to poor choices. To date, we have nearly 30 patients enrolled. It has been a huge launch, and we’ve definitely seen some very promising progress and engagement by both the kids who have come to the program, and their parents.

Each child who enters the program receives a complete medical evaluation and treatment plan for excessive weight gain, overweight and obesity as well as information about the numerous related consequences of obesity (heart disease, diabetes, orthopedic disorders).

All sessions will incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity directed by the Personal Trainer. Participants have an opportunity to use the facilities at the Recreation Center at the University of Maine in Orono.

There are three phases in this program. Phase I consists of 8 weekly sessions; Phase II includes monthly sessions for 6 months, and Phase III involves quarterly visits with the team for 12 months, as needed. All sessions incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity directed by the Personal Trainer. Participants have an opportunity to use the facilities at the Recreation Center at the University of Maine in Orono.

In this is a comprehensive, family-centered approach that also offers ongoing support and education for parents as changes are implemented during each phase.

We hope you will consider either referring your overweight and obese pediatric patients to our program. To help you, we have included resources materials and links in this folder.

Please don’t hesitate to call me or our team. We’d be happy to share our experiences, answer questions you may have or help you find and develop resources for your practice.  To refer patients to our program please complete the following consulation form: Please do not hesitate to call our offices for more information. Our contact information is shown on each of these forms.

Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our patients and their families.

Valerie O’Hara, DO
WOW Director