South Dakota Department of Education Shows a Little Help Can Go a Long Way for We Can!®
Posted November 21, 2011
The South Dakota Department of Education proves there is strength in numbers. In a time of budget cuts and economic challenges, the Department offered a helping hand to schools and afterschool programs across the state. With funding from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Team Nutrition grant, it hosted and funded a statewide We Can! training.
Schools and afterschool programs from across the state applied to participate in the training, identified teams of three to five people, and described how they would use the We Can! curriculum to improve their existing programs. Based on these applications, the Department of Education selected 17 teams of attendees for the training.
During the training, teams learned about We Can! and each program curriculum, and then drafted plans for implementing We Can! in their own communities. Each team received even more support—in the form of a $2,000 grant to apply these plans. Each of these schools and afterschool programs—which are all now official We Can! general community sites—have plans to sponsor at least two We Can! events in their local communities.
"Developing partnerships and finding people with the same goals and interests are key ways to involve a lot of people in the community," said Mary Kirk, a program specialist at the Department of Education.
Mary has traveled across the state to witness events in many of the 17 communities.
One recent event brought her to McIntosh, South Dakota, a rural town of 200 residents on the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The afterschool program organized a We Can! walk-a-thon and healthy foods tasting. After completing a lap around the school track, parents and students were rewarded with new and different healthy foods, ranging from tofu pudding to ugli fruit. In addition to We Can! posters and other materials, the 120 participants were rewarded with pedometers and water bottles provided by other community partners.
"I'm really enjoying it. It's neat to see all the activities and how people have taken the ideas and made it their own," said Kirk. "Any time you can offer even a little bit of funding to help, programs can do a lot with it."
These 17 We Can! sites are proving Mary right, and showing how just a little help goes a long way.
A recent event in McIntosh, SD, brought 120 participants together
for a We Can! walk-a-thon.