We Can!® City: Caguas, Puerto Rico
"Caguas City has been working very hard during the last 10 years to transform itself into a healthy city. With the May 16, 2008, proclamation of Caguas as the first We Can! City in Puerto Rico, Mayor William Miranda-Marín expects to bring active living and healthy nutrition to our city families to accomplish our vision."
—Elba Vázquez Cardín, Executive Director, Corporación S.A.N.O.S.
¡Podemos! means We Can! in Spanish, and is the new rallying cry of Caguas, Puerto Rico. Caguas is the first official Spanish-language We Can! City.
Led by the nonprofit organization S.A.N.O.S. (Salud Asegurada por Nuestra Organización Solidaria), Caguas has focused its efforts on implementing the We Can! Energize Our Families Parent Program, engaging children in physical activity, developing diverse partnerships, and conducting frequent outreach. For instance, during a December 2008 teleconference with other We Can! sites and partners, Caguas site leaders shared information about how they are tailoring the We Can! program to fit language and cultural needs, and also promoting it in the international arena through events like Challenger Day.
Read more about Challenger Day and other outreach and programming below. You can also skip ahead to each of the following topics by clicking on them:
Popular local sports heroes—including champion volleyball player Raúl Papaleo and Olympic swimmer Sonia Álvarez—were on hand to thrill children and adults alike with their participation in the May 2008 launch of Caguas as an official We Can! City, at the Caguas Botanical Gardens. After Mayor William Miranda-Marín signed the official declaration, We Can! Program Coordinator Karen Donato handed him the city sign to the applause of local and national luminaries including representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture, and several of Puerto Rico’s four other We Can! community sites.
And there was no way for guests to get lost on the way to the event, since S.A.N.O.S. staffers had staked ¡Podemos! signs up and down the avenue leading to the Botanical Gardens, and hung bright banners. Attendees also got We Can! t-shirts as parting gifts.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a nutritionist come with you to the grocery store to help guide your food choices? That dream is a reality for participants in Caguas’s We Can!-based Parent Program. Program facilitators discovered that the best way to reach their audiences was through nutritionist-led field trips to the grocery store. While there, participants get hands-on help in reading and understanding labels and nutritional information—guidance that they can use for all other trips.
From a Spanish-language version of the popular Portion Distortion Quiz to Parent Program evaluation tool Tell Us What You Think, Caguas is leading the way in translating and sharing handouts and evaluation tools from the We Can! Energize Our Families Parent Program curriculum. Stay tuned to find materials that they’ve shared with other program site leaders at the Spanish-language resources section of our website.
The following are examples of We Can! programming:
- Measuring Body Mass Index (BMI) is all the rage at some Caguas schools, thanks to We Can! site leaders. The leaders are encouraging schools to measure the BMIs of students in grades 3–5, to not only prompt parents to participate in the Parent Program and engage the whole family in more physical activities, but also to show the before and after results of the program.
- MUNI, a camp for the children of Caguas’s municipal employees, hosted the city’s first We Can! Parent Program. It was a huge success, with parents of some 800 campers attending. Site leaders encouraged participation by including We Can! in the camp brochure, and recruiting parents as they dropped kids off at camp.
A number of partners, ranging from local municipal agencies to international corporations, support We Can! programming in Caguas, including:
The Girl Scouts. Thanks to a collaboration with the local chapter of the Girl Scouts of America, site leaders have been able to reach 150 girls and their parents during a day-long intensive program. Site leaders went the extra mile to get this group motivated by creating a We Can! patch that Scouts can earn by participating in activities that will also help them maintain a healthy weight. And there was something for the parents of the girls, too. While Scouts participated in walks, traditional games, obstacle courses, hiking and more, their parents engaged in a special one-day version of the Parent Program. There were also joint activities, such as parent-child relay races and practicing healthy cooking techniques.
The Puerto Rico Department of Education and the Caguas Sport and Recreation Department. These are just two of several government agencies that help the site coordinate efforts throughout the city.
The University of Puerto Rico. The University’s Medical Science Campus/Public Health School assists the program by plugging in the expertise of graduate students who help crunch the BMI numbers collected from program participants and do other forms of evaluation.
Local retailer Walmart/Sam’s Club/Amigo. The outlet has opened its doors for the ¡Podemos! nutritionist-led grocery store field trips, even going as far as offering healthy snacks to participating youth and parents.
Amgen. This Puerto Rico-based pharmaceutical company sponsors We Can! in Caguas’s efforts and offers guidance through its principals, who serve on the Board of Directors of S.A.N.O.S., the We Can! site lead in Caguas.
The following are examples of how Caguas has conducted outreach and coordinated We Can! events:
- Getting people up and moving is the focus of our Caguas site’s annual participation in Challenger Day, an international competition to see which city can get the most people moving on May 30, 2008. In 2008, Caguas competed against Chía, Colombia, and although they did not win the country competition this year, the Caguas community certainly won out in the end—organizers were able to motivate 2,700 people to participate in physical activities on a single day!
- Thanks to the Caguas site’s sponsorship of Healthy Start—a media campaign to build awareness of the nutritional needs of young children and the resources available to meet these needs—expectant mothers are getting an early start in making informed nutritional choices for themselves, their babies, and other family members.
- We Can! programming was also featured at the annual health fair in Caguas at a We Can! booth. The display was staffed by local and other site leaders from nearby regions, who handed out tip sheets and other materials to generate interest in the program.
PO Box 965
Caguas, Puerto Rico 726
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