We Can!® Goes to School in Somerset County

Girl running while flying kite

Posted April 13, 2012

The Move More Kids Program in Somerset County, Maine, a City/County site, is using We Can! to create county-wide change! With endorsements from the county commissioners, the entire county is supporting healthy living.

Somerset County, with the help of the New Balance Foundation, is bringing We Can! into schools. Using CATCH® Kids Club, Media-Smart Youth: Eat, Think, and Be Active!®, and SPARK™, the students of Somerset County are learning how to eat healthy, get physically active, and reduce the amount of time they spend in front of the screen.

Students participating in the CATCH Kids Club at Moscow Elementary School play balloon games in their gymnasium. Students participating in the CATCH Kids Club at Moscow Elementary School play balloon games in their gymnasium.

Each fall this City/County site trains teachers in five school districts interested in implementing curricula in their classrooms or as an afterschool program. Currently, 17 trained teachers have extensive knowledge of CATCH, Media-Smart Youth, the We Can! Parent Program, or all three. They are also working closely with the SPARK program, with 11 teachers piloting the physical activity curricula in their classrooms.

One combined elementary and middle school currently offers CATCH as their afterschool program with over 30 students participating. Students gather two to three times a week to learn about heart-healthy behaviors and engage in a variety of physical activities, including jump roping, raking leaves, bowling, swimming, Tae Bo, Zumba, kickball, relay races, tag, and hula hooping.

With its success in classrooms and afterschool settings, the Move More Kids Program is now working to integrate We Can! into school curriculum. Two middle schools in the county recently began teaching Media-Smart Youth in their seventh grade health classes, reaching over 70 students!

"We are about halfway through the program and next week will be starting our grocery store field trips," states a health teacher implementing the program. "We are taking the students to our local grocery store where they will learn about healthy food choices."

The students completed a pre-program survey to gauge their base knowledge of the importance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and physical activity. Students will take the survey again at the completion of the program to determine how much they learned from the Media-Smart Youth curricula.

Somerset County students are excited to learn with We Can!—after all, physical activity, nutrition, and screen time are lifelong lessons for inside and outside the classroom.

Wondering how you can learn from Somerset County and the Greater Somerset Public Health Collaborative? Consider the tips below for your community site:

  • Teach with training. Having people who are familiar with We Can! train new leaders is a great way to immediately familiarize newcomers with inside tips and general knowledge. If you're interested in a training a large number of leaders, consider a We Can! regional training—in person or online. For more information, contact your regional liaison.
  • Reach participants where they already are to maximize your We Can! efforts. Children and students are already in the classroom and at afterschool programs—try to find ways to incorporate We Can! into existing opportunities like Somerset County did. Apply this lesson in other ways as well—host a We Can! Parent Program alongside a youth curriculum to make sure both groups can attend.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013