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Title:We Can!
Alt. Title:Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition
Pub. date: 2005
Includes: Homepage
Audience: Parents, Children
Language: English, some material available in Spanish
Description:We Can! stands for Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition. It is a national education program designed for parents and caregivers to help children ages 8 to13 years old stay at a healthy weight. We Can! offers parents and families tips and fun activities to encourage healthy eating, increase physical activity and reduce sedentary or screen time. It also offers community groups and health professionals resources to implement programs and fun activities for parents and youth in communities around the country.
Funding Source: National Institutes of Health
Developer: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in collaboration with the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Cancer Institute
Phone: 1-866-35-WECAN (1-866-359-3226)
Pilot Testing: NIH conducted outcome and process evaluation of 14 Intensive Community Sites that ran We Can! after 1 year. Initial assessment of the results of the parents program indicated improvements in a variety of knowledge, attitude, and behavioral intent measures for parents, including energy balance, portion size, physical activity, and screen time. Youth participating in We Can! evidence-based curricula also showed gains, improving on measures including food knowledge and attitudes, healthy eating behaviors, physical activity attitudes, and screen-time behaviors. These 14 communities reached an estimated 77,000 attendees at community events and forged partnerships with over 90 local organizations. Based on this initial assessment, We Can! Community Sites across the country appear motivated and equipped to help NIH prevent families childhood overweight and obesity.
Reviewers Comments: Four of the National Institutes of Health have combined their unique resources and activities to create We Can!. This program unites proven interventions and current research and puts them into practice. It incorporates numerous components of effective programs, including materials development and dissemination, community involvement, media outreach, national partnerships, and program assessment.

A short video provides an introduction and overview into the program, which is designed to teach children to lean to live healthy lifestyles. Since parents are strong influences on children's behaviors, We Can! first focuses on teaching parents how to balance eating and physical activity, with practical tips to maintain a healthy weight. There is a curriculum for parents and caregivers, parent handbook in English and Spanish, as well as tip sheets and other supplemental materials.

Health professionals also play a major role in informing their patients and families about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. We Can! offers materials and resources for health professionals to use with their patients' families to help them adopt healthy lifestyle habits, including tip sheets, brochures, and posters.

We Can! community resources are divided into four categories: implementation and evaluation, promotion, creating partnerships and additional resources. Each category is designed to assist communities along every step of the way in the program. The implementation and evaluation resources include a starter kit for communities and curricula for parents and youth. The promotion section contains public service announcements appropriate for radio broadcast, posters, logos and resources for media outreach. Information that can be used to initiate contact with and educate local organizations is included in the partnership section. Additional resources in the last section comprise of a variety of helpful and informative resources for community education.

There are several curricula available for communities that teach kids about eating right and moving more. A benefit of all of these programs is that anyone can teach them - a background in nutrition, physical activity or media is not necessary. They can be implemented in a variety of locations, such as parks and recreation centers, schools, hospitals and healthcare systems, cities and states. The curricula include:

  • CATCH Kids Club. A result of the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health (CATCH), the CATCH Kids Club is a nutrition and physical activity program for elementary school aged kids. The curriculum was based on the NHLBI-funded study to create a school health education curriculum designed to motivate heart healthy behavior in children in grades K-5 in after-school and summer camp settings.
  • Media-Smart Youth: Eat, Think, and Be Active! Media-Smart Youth (MSY) is a 10-lesson curriculum funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) that focuses on helping young people ages 11 to 13 understand the connections between media and health. The curriculum concludes with a Big Production—an opportunity for participants to use what they have learned to create a media project designed to motivate other young people to take action for better nutrition or increased physical activity.
  • Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (S.M.A.R.T.) S.M.A.R.T. is a 3rd to 4th grade classroom curriculum designed to motivate children to reduce their television watching and video game usage. The curriculum is intended to be used over the course of the school year and includes all the lesson plans and tools needed to implement the program.

We Can! provides all the materials necessary to start a successful program in any community. A tool kit with learning objectives, talking points, handouts, and tips for planning events, and developing partnerships are all available at the web site. There are sample promotional items, including posters and press releases, and tips for working with the media.

The program prides itself on providing support to those who implement it. We Can! provides free regional trainings geared for a variety of audiences. The events provide an opportunity to learn more about the program. For general questions, an interactive list-serve connects current program leaders, allowing them to form their own support system and assists new program leaders. A newsletter keeps program leaders up date with new program developments.

All We Can! materials, aside from two of the three youth curricula - CATCH Kids Club and Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (S.M.A.R.T.) - are produced by the Federal government without copyright. Anyone may use any information provided, but the NHLBI (as a part of the NIH and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) must be sited as the source document. If any implications are made or conclusions drawn that are not in the original document, it must be stated in the publication. In addition, the material should not be used in any direct or indirect product endorsement.

View/download files: 
We Can! (Main pagein HTML):
Contact the Distributor:
    Distributor: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Health Information Center
    Mail: P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20824-0105
    Phone: (301) 592-8573
    Fax: (301) 592-8563
    Ordering: TTY: (240) 629-3255. Web site:
    Cost: 0.00 per
    Avail. in Qty: No

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