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The Volunteer State Lives Up to Its Name

Tennessee is a We Can!™ MVP this fall, but it has nothing to do with football. Here’s how some Tennesseans are volunteering to help We Can! make first, second, and third downs off of the gridiron, statewide.

Learning to make healthier food choices, exercise more, and spend less time in front of the computer or TV screen isn’t just something kids should pick up at home—they’re messages that schools can carry to their students. That’s the message that We Can! Program Officer Karen Donato shared with more than 130 Coordinated School Health Coordinators at their annual meeting in Nashville, in September. We Can! is exploring collaborations with the Coordinated School Health Program and the state’s Family Resource Centers, both part of the Tennessee Department of Education.

Knoxville is revving up to become a We Can! city. The mayor and 140 other notables have been invited to a special, October 14 kick-off luncheon planned by Eleanor Stevens with the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, the only medical center in East Tennessee devoted solely to children. They hope to launch Knoxville as a We Can! City in January 2009, which would make Knoxville the fourteenth municipality to become an official We Can! City or County.

Memphis may soon be known for more than blue suede shoes and BBQ—the New Beginning Ministries Church launched a We Can! Parent Program in August, and is planning to launch additional programs this fall. The church has been one of our most active community sites since signing up in June 2007. To date, it’s hosted a range of activities, including:

  • Incorporating a We Can! program into a three-day children’s church retreat.
  • Offering a parent training combining all four sessions of the Parent Program into one Saturday evening event for parents and grandparents that serve as primary caregivers.
  • Forming key partnerships with the national program Girls Incorporated to teach the Media-Smart Youth curriculum to summer camp counselors.
  • Partnering with the Children’s Museum of Memphis for We Can!-related events.

In Johnson City, the Northeast Tennessee Minority Resources Network has put its muscle behind the Media-Smart Youth curriculum, encouraging churches to use it in conjunction with We Can! parent materials. The network targets health disparities in at-risk communities by working with churches to develop programs and hold health fairs.

In Oak Ridge, the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge held a press conference to announce that the museum had become a new We Can! community site.

Contact us at if you would like to connect with any of these organizations and learn more about what they are doing.


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