We Can!® Is Shaking Things Up In South Carolina
Posted February 24, 2012
In Winnsboro, South Carolina, a town of roughly 3,500 people in a rural region of the state, parents and children are stirring things up and getting healthy with We Can!. In collaboration with the Fairfield Memorial Hospital and the John A. Martin Primary Health Care Center, The Healthy Kids Clinic, a long-time dedicated We Can! General site, is committed to helping community members address its high prevalence of obesity.
In 2011, on six different occasions, The Healthy Kids Clinic recruited eight to ten parents to join a six-week program featuring the We Can! Energize Our Families: Parent Program and CATCH® youth curricula.
Once a week parents met to participate in the Parent Program where they discussed portion control, energy balance, tips to increase physical activity and decrease screen time, and risk factors for obesity. Parents also set weekly goals for their own physical activity and nutrition, including eating slower and putting the fork down in between bites to help prevent overeating. In addition, parents participated in cooking demonstrations using recipes from the Keep the Beat™/We Can! Deliciously Healthy Family Meals cookbook (8.7 MB). While parents were hard at work in the classroom, their children engaged in active games from the CATCH curriculum.
Mac Russell, a registered dietician, leads the effort to help parents and children in her community address obesity. Russell fully believes that parents play the most significant role in influencing their children's eating, exercise, and screen time habits.
"When a parent makes changes, the child will follow. When parents won't commit themselves, I tend to not see as much success in the children. When our program is over, it's the parents who can provide guidance and set an example for their children," Russell said.
Though she acknowledges that the program has faced some barriers because it runs after school, a busy time for many families, Russell said that the program has been able to successfully recruit a dedicated group to participate through its partnership with the John A. Martin Primary Healthcare Center.
"I believe the program was very beneficial to my entire family. As a parent, the most beneficial part was learning just how much of a role I can play in having children that eat healthy and are physically active. I'm encouraged to prepare healthier meals at home, and to get up and get moving with my children to help them have a healthier future," said a mother who recently completed the program with her children.
The Healthy Kids Clinic plans to continue its We Can! programming in the hopes of reaching even more parents and children in South Carolina.