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What's We Can

We Can!™ City: Roswell, Georgia

Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department

We Can! is definitely a positive addition. People recognize We Can! through our efforts, seeing how it is making changes and directly impacting our kids and our community.”
—Kiran Fatania (We Can! leader with the Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department, and Media-Smart Youth® trainer)

Things are looking just peachy for We Can! in Roswell, GA.

Already a successful We Can! Founding Intensive Site, the Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department has taken the city of Roswell to the next level, leading it to become one of the first We Can! cities. This Georgia city “bumped up” its status in large part because of the great success that the Parks and Recreation Department is having with its youth-oriented programming, particularly the Media-Smart Youth program.

“The Media-Smart Youth program has been our biggest success, and it’s getting bigger,” said Kiran Fatania, one of the leaders of the Media-Smart Youth program.

This exciting transition took place on May 3, 2007, when Roswell Mayor Jere Wood declared his city of some 88,000 people, located 20 miles from Atlanta, an official We Can! city. He also designated that day We Can! Day in Roswell.

The newly minted We Can! city immediately got to work by holding a We Can! regional training at the Roswell Adult Recreation Center. The training drew more than 100 participants, teaching them how to implement evidence-based We Can! curricula in their communities as well as learn how other communities have had successes with We Can! programming. The training also provided a great opportunity for people around Roswell to network and share innovative ideas on helping children maintain a healthy weight.

For more about how Roswell is using the We Can! program, click on the links below to jump to certain sections.

Key Successes

In Roswell, We Can! programs have had success and staying power.
Now in its fourth year, the Media-Smart Youth program in Roswell has more than doubled in size. Back in 2005, the program had seven participants. It now draws some 18 students every week and has attracted more than 50 students to date.

This success is due in part to the partnership between the Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department and Crabapple Middle School. Together, they implement the Media-Smart Youth curriculum, which has run every fall for 12 weeks since 2005. Support for the program has been strong, especially from the school’s Parent Teacher Association, and the school’s physical education instructor, Susan Polk. Ms. Polk coordinates with local We Can! lead Kiran Fatania, and together they continue the program, teaching the curriculum to middle-schoolers once a week, after school.

MSY Class

Another local success story is the production support that Roswell’s Media-Smart Youth program receives for the Public Service Announcement (PSA) that students produce at the end of the program. Local video and audio experts have helped to edit what has become known as the “Big Production.” Once the kids complete the PSA, a local community member donates his 100-foot screen to show it during a special opening night, to which parents, student’s classmates and school officials are invited.

Media-Smart Youth participants also create and perform a jingle. Radio talk-jock Moby Carney, of “Moby in the Morning,” even airs the jingle on his morning-radio show, which airs in 14 states.

Roswell has been so successful with Media-Smart Youth that their adaptation of it now serves as a model program for others. Program leaders shared their successes and offered tips to other community sites during a December 2007 We Can! nationwide conference call.

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Programming

Roswell’s Media-Smart Youth classes aren’t the only active We Can!-based programs running in Roswell. Other past and future programs include:

  • CATCH Kids Club: These are summer camps for kids 12 and younger. Camp leaders teach a mixture of the CATCH and Media-Smart Youth curriculum, with Media-Smart Youth being adapted to the younger age range.
  • A Health & Wellness Program for city employees: In the past, Roswell city employees had the opportunity to attend We Can! Parent Program classes once a week. Organizers are seeking innovative ways to offer it again soon.
  • Media-Smart Youth at East Roswell Summer Camp: Employees of the Roswell Parks & Recreation Department adapted the Media-Smart Youth curriculum to incorporate it into this day camp that runs for 10 weeks. Camp-goers in 2009, ranging from ages 7-13, will learn about healthy eating and physical activity, and will also participate in art projects once a week.

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Partnerships

Roswell has also forged some innovative local partnerships, which have added to the success of its programming. “You have to make triangle partnerships, because there really is no budget for the programs,” said Roswell We Can! site leader Kiran Fatania. Tapping into great resources already available in the community allows for continuous programming, and also makes the We Can! programs in Roswell a truly a city-wide effort.

Partners of Roswell’s We Can! past and current programming include local grocery stores, hospitals, celebrities, local media partners, and professionals such as the following:

  • Alpharetta YMCA
  • Athens-Clarke County School District
  • City of Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department
  • Crabapple Middle School
  • Kroger Supermarkets
  • North Fulton Regional Hospital
  • Publix Supermarkets

These partners help support an array of activities, including providing in-kind donations, helping to recruit participants, partners, and supporters; serving as guest speakers; and offering kids hands-on, real-world experiences.

One example of the enriching experiences offered by a Roswell We Can! partner is the annual fall scavenger hunt sponsored by Publix supermarket. Every fall, students in the Media-Smart Youth class scour the supermarket to find designated items, forcing them to read food labels and learn about healthier food choices.

Students at Publix

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Outreach & Events

Annual Youth Day Parade: On the second Saturday of October, 2009, the City will hold its 54th Youth Day Parade, and for the fifth year in a row, Roswell’s We Can! leaders will be making the parade “healthier.” Instead of handing out chocolate and sweet treats, the kids from the Media-Smart Youth program ride the We Can! float and throw healthy pretzels to the crowd. “Step Up to Health!” was the theme 2007’s parade, and the 2008 theme was “Going Green.” The parade is followed by a festival, during which approximately 5,000 children play active games set up by Roswell’s We Can! organizers.

Roswell Parade

Presentation at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC-DASH): In October 2008, Mary Rummel and Kiran Fatania, We Can! site leaders from the Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department, spoke to CDC staff about how their site is reaching adolescents and other audiences through We Can! programming. Attendees learned about the We Can! Parent Program, Web site, and the types of technical and other assistance their communities can receive. Meeting attendees also heard about the Roswell program and enjoyed a jingle and viewed a PSA created by children in the local Media-Smart Youth program.

Surgeon General’s Roundtable: On February 24, 2009, two Roswell We Can! site leaders shared exciting We Can! programming news with the Surgeon General and many others at a roundtable in Atlanta, GA. It spread the word about We Can! to other statewide leaders and organizations leading childhood obesity prevention efforts.

Physical Education Teachers Conference: Roswell We Can! site leader Kiran Fatania presented We Can! to a group of some 40 physical education teachers at the Southeastern PE Conference held in Georgia in 2007.

Media Coverage: We Can! in Roswell has been featured in several publications, including:

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A two-page story covered Roswell’s designation as a We Can! City, featured the We Can! regional training and other programming, and news of all of it reached nearly two million people.
  • Recreation & Parks in Georgia: This official publication of the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (circulation: around 20,000 professionals) ran a piece about We Can! by site leader Kiran Fatania. To view it, cut and paste this link into your browser: http://www.grpa.org/pdf/2008FallMagazine.pdf

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Contact Information

For more information on Roswell’s We Can! platform, please send a letter to:

Kiran Fatania
Roswell Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department
830 Grimes Bridge Road
Roswell, Georgia 30075

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


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