A We Can!® Free Clinic Remains Invested in Helping Local Families Live Healthy
Posted January 12, 2011
The Jeanie Schmidt Free Clinic is gearing up for their sixth round of hosting the We Can! Energize Our Families: Parent Program, and has no intention of slowing down.
The clinic—which is located in Herndon, Virginia—joined We Can! as general community site in June 2009, and started offering the classes to families shortly thereafter. Every Wednesday night, parents and kids are invited to attend the We Can! classes (held at a local YMCA), where they learn the importance of eating right, staying active, and spending less time in front of the screen.
During the first hour of each lesson, parents focus on the material presented in the curriculum and work with a nutrition counselor to discuss proper portion sizes and options for eating healthier. Meanwhile, the kids in attendance go to the facility's gym and play physically active games, led by a personal trainer.
Then, for the last half-hour of each lesson, the kids join the adults and learn the key concepts presented in that week's lesson. The adults and youth also get to make a healthy snack, which they are encouraged to replicate in school lunches and for after-school snacks.
Participants for the We Can! classes are recruited though a variety of ways. The Clinic promotes the program with flyers at local schools and in local churches. Additionally, the Clinic's patients with BMIs of 25 and over are referred to the program by the Clinic's physicians and are even mailed a formal program invitation.
Overall, the program attracts a good turnout, but even on days when it doesn't, staff at the Clinic will not turn interested participants away.
"Sometimes we have 25 participants in a lesson and sometimes we have two," said Lorraine Ondrasik, Childcare Coordinator for the Jeanie Schmidt Free Clinic. "We will never cancel classes if even only one person shows up. As long as there is a body in the room, we feel like we are helping somebody and helping to make a difference in the health of our community."