|Shown at the event are (from l) Melissa McGowan, public health advisor in NHLBI’s Division for the Application of Research Discoveries (DARD); Karen Donato, deputy director of DARD; Vanetta Keyes, We Can! community site leader; Dr. Melinda Kelley, health policy analyst in DARD; and Dr. Gary Gibbons, director of NHLBI.
On Mar. 7, NIH’s We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) program was highlighted during a Let’s Move! anniversary event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Bldg. in Washington, D.C. First Lady Michelle Obama honored the work of organizations that have joined the Let’s Move Faith and Communities (LMFC) initiative and talked about how critical their actions are to helping children maintain a healthy weight.
LMFC’s mission is to train, educate and equip faith- and-community-based health leaders with best practices and resources to help them create opportunities for making healthier choices, provide access to healthy, affordable food and encourage increased physical activity. The initiative currently includes about 800 organizations as well as 40 national partners such as the Seventh-day Adventists and the National Baptist Convention.
We Can!’s partnership with LMFC was one of three featured during the event. The other two were the USDA’s Summer Feeding Service Program and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition’s new initiative promoting physical activity in schools.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s counselor for science and public health Caya Lewis remarked on the key role of community partnerships in implementing important health initiatives. She also introduced NHLBI director Dr. Gary Gibbons, who expressed his excitement for the collaboration between We Can! and LMFC. Gibbons acknowledged the NIH partners who work with NHLBI on We Can!, including NIDDK, NICHD and NCI.
Gibbons said that while the goals of We Can!—helping families eat healthier and move more—seem simple in concept, changing behaviors for a lifetime is difficult. Collaboration is critical, said Gibbons, who noted that the We Can! program actively engages community leaders in partnerships that turn NIH-supported research into real-world improvements in health around the country. By working together, We Can! and LMFC can reach more families and communities and help them to maintain healthy lifestyles through eating right, getting active and reducing screen time.