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Give Dad the Gift of Good Health for Father's Day this Year

For Immediate Release:
June 11, 2008

We Can! Partners with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service

The U.S. Department of Interior and the National Institutes of Health's We Can! program—a national education program to help children maintain a healthy weight—are encouraging children and families to get outside and play at a nearby national park or national wildlife refuge this weekend and beyond.

Father's Day (Sunday, June 15) is the perfect time to move for better health.  Kids, take the father figure in your life outside to play. This weekend also includes National Get Outdoors Day on Saturday, June 14, and there are events all over the country to help get families out of the house and into the great outdoors. Playing actively together benefits the whole family.
 
Increasing physical activity is a primary goal of We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition), a science-based national education program to help children ages 8-13 maintain a healthy weight. We Can! is a program of the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services. The program provides tips and resources for parents, caregivers, and community organizations to help children and their families make better food choices, increase physical activity and reduce screen time. The program is now underway in more than 800 community sites in all 50 states and 10 countries.

This weekend marks the start of an exciting new partnership among We Can! and the Department of Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service. The government partners are joining 40 other national partners in support of We Can! National wildlife refuges and national parks also provide ideal settings for family activities such as a walk in the woods, bike riding, fishing, canoeing or a wildlife watching trip. In addition to the benefits of spending time together outside, families are also keeping physically active and promoting a healthy lifestyle.     

"We're very pleased to partner with NIH and help make the nation's fisheries and wildlife refuges and national parks a welcome and exciting resource for youth, parents and caregivers to promote a love of nature and the great outdoors," said Secretary of Interior Dirk Kempthorne. "With more than 181 million acres of public land in the National Wildlife Refuge System and National Park System, we can provide numerous opportunities for families. We need to get children and their families out of cyberspace and into open spaces. To put down their BlackBerries and go pick blackberries. To stop channel surfing and go wind surfing. To shut off the web casts and cast a line for a trout."  
 
"We are pleased to have these new partners collaborating with the We Can! movement to encourage families to take action to help their children maintain a healthy weight, and in so doing, address the childhood overweight epidemic," said Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., acting surgeon general of the U.S. Public Health Service. "More than twelve and a half million American children and adolescents are overweight and at increased risk for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and asthma. Reducing obesity – and improving the health of millions of children – is a challenge we as a society must fully embrace."

There are numerous opportunities for families across the country to enjoy fun physical activity outdoors.  Not only can families get outside and play together, but they can also develop an appreciation of nature and all that it offers.

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Supplemental Information

For a list of local activities for Get Outdoors Day, visit www.nationalgetoutdoorsday.org

For more activities that families can do together, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/.

Editors note: B-roll and still photographs of families enjoying the outdoors are available.