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What's We Can

We Can! City & County: Broome County and Binghamton, New York

Creative Nutrition Solutions, Steps to a HealthierNY, &United Health Services Hospitals

"We Can! promises to help our young people develop healthy practices at an early age, which will benefit our community for years to come."
—Binghamton Mayor Matthew Ryan

Overview

Community health organizations in the city of Binghamton and Broome County, New York, came together during the summer of 2007 to become involved in the We Can! movement. After taking some time to develop their cadre of partners and plans for programming and promotion, on June 18, 2008, Binghamton became a We Can! City and the surrounding Broome County became a We Can! County.

As the first We Can! City/County combination, Binghamton and Broome County provide a great example of how the combined efforts of two municipalities can generate exponential results! Read more about how this successful partnership uses the We Can! program below. Click on the links below to jump to certain sections.

Key Successes

In addition to their partnerships, programming, and outreach, We Can! organizers in Binghamton and Broome County have been successful in environmental change as well.

The Rock On Café program has enjoyed particular success in Broome County and will be featured in the Journal of Health Promotion and Practice for achieving sustainable systems change in the Broome County community. The fifteen school districts in Broome County came together in the movement for healthier food in 2007, organized by the Broome County Tioga Border Cooperative Education Services. By consolidating their buying power, area schools were able to purchase healthier foods at a reduced price. Program coordinators display and distribute We Can! materials to promote good nutrition and physical activity messages.

All of the new foods that have been introduced into the school district have been taste-tested in lunch rooms and approved by students. Elementary school students now enjoy pizzas with whole wheat crusts, ranch chicken wraps, and brown rice. Once a week they partake in a different Signature Salad, such as Asian chicken salad with mandarin oranges. The success of the program led it to expand to middle and high schools in Broome County in January 2009.

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Programming

Binghamton and Broome County have established many successful We Can! programs and have more in the works!

  • The Rural Health Network was awarded a grant from the Gannett Foundation to implement an afterschool youth program and has used it to implement the CATCH Kids Club curriculum for students in the third grade at a local elementary school. Those leading the effort have tailored We Can! programming to their needs by incorporating an additional lesson on media from the Media-Smart Youth curriculum and another lesson on emotional health. Ten area school districts have been trained on the Media-Smart Youth curriculum and many are beginning to integrate the Media-Smart Youth materials into their classrooms.CartoonCharacters
  • Mason Mastroianni, grandson of famed cartoonist Johnny Hart, has created cartoon characters for the We Can! programs in Broome County and Binghamton. Mason will also be developing a short DVD with the cartoon characters to encourage healthy nutrition and physical activity habits.
  • In response to feedback from parents and families in the Broome County and Binghamton area, a CD version of the We Can! Energize Our Families Parent Program is in the works. It is intended to fit into the lifestyles of busy parents so that they can learn about healthy nutrition and physical activity habits for their families while on the go. The CD will be promoted to families in the school newsletters.
  • Broome County and Binghamton are taking advantage of established health call centers to share the We Can! Energize Our Families Parent Program with busy families. Those who do not have time to attend classes will be able to call at their convenience to participate in the Parent curriculum, led by nurses at the call center.
  • Stay Healthy Kids from partner United Health Services will be launching a Web site to feature We Can! activities and other events around the area that will help to reinforce the key messages of We Can! Stay tuned for the link.

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Partnerships

Partnerships provide the foundation of the We Can! movement in Broome County and Binghamton. As City Youth Bureau Director Ana Shaello-Johnson said at the kick-off event for Binghamton to become a We Can! City and for Broome to become a We Can! County, “The partnership between the City, our School District, and other youth agencies is key to making We Can!’s resources accessible to our community. With collaborations like these, we’re making a healthy environment for our young people, and everyone.” Janet de Jesus of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) attended the kick-off and echoed Ms. Shaello-Johnson’s sentiments in saying, “By combining their efforts under the We Can! banner, community agencies in greater Binghamton will be able to reach out to families with greater efficiency and effectiveness.”

The following organizations are collaborating to run We Can! efforts, and many more community organizations participate in the effort.

  • United Health Services Hospitals
  • Stay Healthy Kids
  • Steps to a HealthierNY
  • All 15 school districts in the region
  • Creative Nutrition Solutions
  • The Family Enrichment Network
  • The Rural Health Network
  • Broome-Tioga Boches
  • Broome County
  • The City of Binghamton
  • The New York State Department of Health’s Healthy Heart Program

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Outreach & Events

Broome County and Binghamton kicked off their dual We Can! City and County efforts on June 18, 2008 at the United Health Services Stay Healthy Center in the Oakdale Mall. The event was covered by local TV and radio news sources and attended by Mayor Matthew Ryan, Janet de Jesus from the NHLBI, representatives of local organizations, and community members.

"We Can! promises to help our young people develop healthy practices at an early age, which will benefit our community for years to come,” said Mayor Ryan. “Studies show that proper exercise and nutrition are critical to overall youth development in terms of self-esteem, school performance, and social skills. A healthier community will also help us cut our many medical costs, saving money for all taxpayers."

Broome County and Binghamton have also had some other exciting We Can! events:

  • Broome County and Binghamton celebrated Heart Healthy Week in February 2009 with 17,000 elementary school students and their families. All 42 elementary schools in Broome County promoted healthy nutrition and physical activity during the week with fun decorations, morning announcements, and low-fat and whole grain foods served in cafeterias. Each family received a newsletter on heart health and teachers received information on the We Can! program.
  • TV Turnoff week will be celebrated around the country on April 20-26, 2009. The Broome County and Binghamton We Can! program has partnered with local organizations such as a Barnes & Noble, Binghamton University, Binghamton Library, churches, the local children’s museum, AC Moore Crafts, and a local roller skating rink to offer alternative activities for children every day during that week. The We Can! program will be running advertisements for activities in the local paper and have a press conference to introduce the week.

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Contact Information

For more information on Binghamton and Broome County’s We Can! platform, please send a letter to or visit their Web sites:

Creative Nutrition Solutions
Molly Morgan
PO Box 913
Vestal, NY 13851
www.creativenutritionsolutions.com

Steps to a HealthierNY
Mary McFadden
225 Front Street
Broome County, NY 13905
http://www.broomesteps.org/steps

United Health Services Hospitals
Patricia Fell
33-57 Harrison St.
Johnson City, New York 13790
www.uhs.net

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


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