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We Can!® County: Blount County, Tennessee

"The We Can! program has served to unite and increase awareness for all of the health and wellness initiatives in Blount County."
—Mary Morse, University of Tennessee Extension - Blount County, Program
Assistant II - TNCEP

Overview

Blount BEneFITs, the action team of the Blount County Community Health Initiative, is committed to reducing childhood obesity and promoting physical activity for all Blount County residents. Blount BEneFITs was instrumental in coordinating the support of the county's three mayors and other community organizations, enabling Blount County to be designated as a We Can! City/County in January 2011.

Blount BEneFITs team members include a local hospital, health department, university extension, coordinated school health professionals, and other local business and community representatives. These members continue to coordinate and strengthen nutrition and physical activity education efforts through We Can!.

Read more about Blount County's implementation of We Can! below:

Key Successes

Blount County successfully collaborates across sectors to develop We Can! programming and events, reaching children and parents through school and afterschool educational sessions, spring break cooking classes, and community events.

The local newspaper, The Daily Times, features articles about all We Can! events and programs, as well as general stories on nutrition and nutrition education efforts.

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Programming

We Can! programming currently occurs across all three Blount County school systems, reaching students in classrooms and cafeterias, and at afterschool and spring break programs.

  • The University of Tennessee Extension program assistants partnered with Coordinated School Health Coordinators for all three Blount County school systems and with over 200 classroom teachers, teacher assistants, and community volunteers to offer We Can! nutrition education. The CATCH® (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) curriculum provided grade-specific lessons, including food sampling and hands-on food preparation activities, to more than 2,500 students during the 2010-2011 school year.
  • All three Blount County School Systems implemented the Go, Slow, Whoa program. All food items served in school cafeterias were analyzed and coded as a "Go," "Slow," or "Whoa." Schools then distributed educational materials to students and families to encourage the adoption of the Go, Slow, Whoa program both at school and at home.
  • As part of Blount County's We Can! effort to reach families, students in afterschool programs participated in a unique, interactive cooking class that was held over spring break. The five-lesson program, based on We Can! programming and resources, taught students nutrition and basic cooking skills as they prepared healthy snacks including quesadillas, egg salad, and yogurt parfaits.
  • Over 600 elementary students at nine schools participated in the "Kids in the Kitchen" spring break program to encourage healthy eating. Each day's programming was based on the CATCH Kids Club curriculum. Program coordinators engaged parents by sending home nutrition information, We Can! Parent Program materials, cooking equipment such as measuring spoons and meat thermometers, and a Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook with recipes and tips for healthy eating for the whole family.

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Partnerships

Blount BEneFITs is an action team comprised of many partners, including the following:

  • Blount Memorial Hospital
  • The University of Tennessee Extension
  • Coordinated School Health Coordinators from all three Blount County school systems (Alcoa City Schools, Blount County Schools, and Maryville City Schools)
  • Blount County Health Department
  • Clayton Homes
  • Local business and community representatives

Blount BEneFITs adoption of the We Can! program has brought greater awareness of the obesity problem in the community. Additionally, it has strengthened partnerships with local businesses. Several partners—SUBWAY® restaurants, Blount Memorial Hospital, Mayfield Dairy, and many other local businesses—provided generous contributions for the Blount County Fun & Fitness Festival—the We Can! kick-off event.

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Outreach & Events

We Can! has helped unite community awareness through events and outreach programs sponsored by Blount BEneFITs, the University of Tennessee Extension, and its member businesses and organizations. Blount County We Can! community events and outreach programs include:

  • The annual Ready, Set, Move! Adventure Challenge. This event encourages the companies, corporations, and organizations of Blount County to get moving in a challenging setting. The Adventure Challenge features a run/walk, multi-skill events, and team strategy. Participants also encounter a special mystery event that tests their teamwork, group initiative and communication skills. Additional event photos can be viewed at http://www.blounttoday.com/photos/galleries/read-set-move-2011/15539external link.
  • The Fun & Fitness Festival kicked off Blount County's designation as a We Can! County/City. The festival showed ways to live healthy, including how to eat well and play hard, with a Kids Cook Healthy demonstration, a variety of interactive nutrition education booths, bicycle helmet fitting and give-away, drug and alcohol prevention activities, and games and physical activity demonstrations. View photos from the Fun & Fitness Festival can be viewed at http://photostore.thedailytimes.com/mycapture/enlarge.asp?image=35488025&event=1237778&CategoryID=65798external link.
  • The ongoing Ready, Set, Move Award program recognizes local schools and businesses that promote, contribute to, and enhance quality of life through healthy lifestyle opportunities. Winners are recognized in The Daily Times and are given a Ready, Set, Move! outdoor sign to display in front of their organization.

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Contact Information

For more information on Blount County's We Can! program, please contact:

The University of Tennessee Extension - Blount County
219 Court Street
Maryville, TN 37804-5917
Phone: (865)982-6430
Email: sarden1@utk.edu

For additional contact information‚ send an email to nhlbiinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov.

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Last Updated: February 13, 2013

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