Charles County Trio Proves that Good Things Do Come in Threes
Posted October 5‚ 2010
Do good things come in threes? In Charles County, Maryland, that is proving to be the case.
The Charles County Department of Health, Charles County Parks and Recreation, and Civista Medical Center recently teamed up to help families in their community live healthy and have fun while doing it! The partner trio began using We Can!® in July of 2009 when they received a Maryland Department of Health grant.
"It just seemed natural for us to all to work together," said Linda Thomas, Program Manager at the Charles County Department of Health. "We all contribute different resources and bring our tools to the table to really make it happen."
And Charles County really has been making things happen—and the successful partnership is only the start. Since beginning their work with We Can!, Charles County has experienced success in three major areas, including We Can! events, curriculum implementation, and local media coverage.
This past spring the trio sponsored a We Can! Night Out at the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs professional baseball game. At the event, the organizations hosted a We Can! information table, had a We Can! family throw the first pitch, and even had GO, SLOW, and WHOA messages displayed for the 800 game attendees on the stadium's jumbotron. Additionally, the Charles County We Can! trio has hosted a series of other community events, including swim nights, hikes, triathlons, and 5K family fun runs.
Charles County also takes a three-pronged approach to making a difference in their community by engaging three different audiences: health professionals, youth, and parents and caregivers. To recruit participants for their We Can! classes, Thomas and her colleagues from the Charles County Health Department traveled to several local pediatricians' offices, sat in waiting rooms, and persuaded doctors to recommend the classes to at-risk patients and their families. Soon after, the phone was ringing off the hook.
"Several times, a doctor would have a patient and the patient's parent in his office, and would call during the appointment to sign the family up for our classes," said Joyce Riggs, Director, Community Development and Planning, Public Information Officer at Civista Health. "Patients would also walk into their doctors' offices waving the We Can! flyer [that advertised the classes], wanting to know more about the program."
Health professionals are also involved in all of the classes. A pediatrician, a dietician, a counselor, a school nurse, and an exercise physiologist attend most of the sessions to provide content expertise and to help with the various sections of the classes, which are comprised of both kids and their parents.
"We really encourage the whole family to come to the classes," said Riggs.
Radio PSAs, PSAs on the local cable television channel, ads in the local paper, and outreach through the Health Department and the hospital also help to capture community residents' attention. All of the outreach efforts seem to work, since most of the events are packed and a total of 40 people (from 25 families) are registered for the fall We Can! class. One thing is for sure: there is no shortage of We Can! activity in Charles County.