|Children from Umana Middle School Academy present the Boston We Can! City sign to Mayor Thomas Menino during a press conference. Adults on hand included (from l) NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni; acting Surgeon General Steven Galson; Menino; NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel; and Karen Donato, coordinator, NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative.
Acting Surgeon General Steven Galson, NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni and other NIH leaders
recently participated in community events at several children’s museums to announce a new partnership between NIH’s We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) program and the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM).
The partnership will help expand We Can!’s community-based efforts to address the epidemic
of childhood overweight. In addition, three cities—Boston, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas—were designated as We Can! cities. NHLBI director Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, NHLBI deputy director Dr. Susan Shurin and NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers each participated in We Can! promotional events.
Simultaneous events were held in Boston; New York; Pittsburgh; Las Vegas and Carson City, Nev.; Memphis and Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and Rockford,
Ill., to bring attention to the growing success
and availability of We Can! and to demonstrate
how communities are implementing it.
We Can!, a science-based national education program to help children ages 8-13 stay at a healthy weight, has been adopted by more than 500 community sites in 46 states. It is a trans-NIH collaboration led by NHLBI with NIDDK, NICHD and NCI combining their resources and activities. The program was launched in June 2005 by HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.
“With over 40 partners, We Can! is making strides to bring a common message about the need for children to maintain a healthy weight through a variety of channels, including museums,
community groups, corporations, health professionals and educators,” said Galson at Boston Children’s Museum.
“More than 12½ million American children and adolescents are overweight and are at increased risk for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and asthma,” Galson added. “Childhood obesity is among the most critical challenges that we—whether policy maker, scientist, public health professional or parent—face.”
“We are meeting this crisis, as we must, with energy, imagination and the ongoing dedication
of individuals, organizations—and great cities like Boston,” noted Zerhouni. “Now more than ever, parents need sensible guidance to help their kids stay at a healthy weight. We Can! works by providing resources and programs that offer practical, scientific advice that can show each of us—especially our children—how to live more healthfully in this modern world.”
Galson and Zerhouni were joined by Nabel, ACM Executive Director Janet Rice Elman and 25 children from Umana Middle School Academy in East Boston. The students presented Mayor Thomas Menino with the official We Can! City sign to acknowledge his commitment to support intensive We Can! efforts throughout Boston.
NIDDK’s Rodgers spoke to children and parents at the We Can! event hosted by the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and introduced a healthy cooking demonstration
by Chefs for Humanity.
At the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health Plan announced its commitment to implement We Can! programs throughout western Pennsylvania. The plan partnered with the museum,
the city of Pittsburgh, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Children’s Community
Pediatrics and H.J. Heinz Co. to host the event. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
declared a We Can! day in Pittsburgh and announced that Pittsburgh would become a We Can! City. NHLBI’s Shurin described the impact of childhood obesity
and the importance of teaching children how to adopt behaviors that can help them maintain a healthy weight.
At the 53rd annual meeting of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) held in Washington, D.C., NICHD deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox and NCNW chair and president emerita Dr. Dorothy Height announced a collaboration
that includes using We Can! materials in NCNW chapters around the country.
More than 40 NCNW leaders from around the U.S. participated in a We Can! training session held at the meeting.
“Our collaboration with the NCNW is another way we are building trust with community organizations,” Maddox said. “Our collaboration is based on the science the NIH has supported over more than a decade. This program can help parents and children gain the knowledge and tools to help maintain a healthy weight.”
For a list of We Can! community sites, cities, partners, resources and more information,