From the Big Apple to the Bayou—$838,000 Grant to Children’s Museum of Manhattan Goes Beyond Manhattan

Girl running while flying kite

Posted October 22, 2009

What Do New Orleans and the Bronx Have in Common? New Funds to Launch a We Can!™-based Childhood Obesity Project for Young Children.

Can the core messages of We Can!—to eat nutritiously, be more physically active, and spend less time in front of the TV or computer screen—be communicated effectively to young children?

That’s a question that the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) and its partners—part of the We Can! movement since 2008—are about to answer by adapting the We Can! Energize our Families: Parent Program to parents and children ages 2-5, blending the program’s scientific content with art and creativity.  As you know, We Can! was created to provide science-based resources to the parents and caregivers of children ages 8-13. 

The adaptation and testing are made possible thanks to a generous and prestigious three-year National Leadership grant of $838,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. 

Photo of Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Photo of Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City

Photos of Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor, New York City

The award was announced at a press conference at CMOM, on Friday, October 23.  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Former Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI); New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and other notables took part in the announcement. 

Karen Donato (NHLBI), Laurie M. Tisch, John Rhea (Chairman, New York City Housing Authority), Halley K. Harrisburg (CMOM Board Chair), Mayor Bloomberg, Andy Ackerman, Dr. Elizabeth Nabel

Photo of Karen Donato, Laurie M. Tisch, John Rhea, Halley K. Harrisburg, Mayor Bloomberg, Andy Ackerman, and Dr. Elizabeth Nabel

"As childhood obesity rates continue to threaten the health and well-being of our nation's children, local and national leaders are seeking innovative ways to foster healthy eating and physical activity habits that last a lifetime and can help prevent or lower the risk of overweight and obesity. The NIH applauds CMOM's efforts to help blend the scientific content of our We Can! messages with the Museum's deep understanding of early childhood learning and its ability to engage with families and community partners,” said Dr. Nabel. 

Using We Can!’s core principles as a basis, CMOM’s Early Childhood Obesity Prevention project will tailor the program to younger children, exploring the connection between nutrition, physical activity, and the importance of sleep and a healthy immune system in achieving complete health and wellness. The grant will also support the creation of a new exhibit to reinforce We Can! messages.

The adapted program will run at the East Side House Settlement public-housing facility in the Bronx, and then in New Orleans in partnership with the Louisiana Children’s Museum.  

“Over the course of the four years that CMOM has run literacy programs at East Side House Settlement, parents have shown such enthusiasm and commitment week after week, learning side by side with their children, and we have seen the children respond so positively to all of CMOM’s arts, literacy and science programs,” said John Sanchez, Executive Director of East Side House Settlement.

“Our work with CMOM has proved to be absolutely transformational for the Louisiana Children’s Museum and the greater New Orleans community—with Louisiana’s steady battle against childhood obesity, we see this as a timely and crucial initiative,” said Julia Bland, Executive Director of the Louisiana Children’s Museum.

Leaders anticipate that the project could result in:

  • Early childhood obesity prevention programs for high-need communities
  • Professional development programs for parents, health care workers, and educators
  • Health programs and workshops for families at the museum
  • A new permanent health exhibit at CMOM
  • Exhibit replication plans for national distribution with small museums and science centers
  • Published evaluation findings that will guide the practices of health practitioners, community leaders, and policymakers 

You may recall that almost exactly one year ago (October 24, 2008), HHS presented its Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future Champion Award to CMOM and the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS). They received that award for their work in helping prevent childhood obesity through an innovative partnership with We Can! that included parent health ambassadors in low-income communities, healthy lifestyle classes, and professional development for health educators. 

Learn more about how CMOM has been using We Can! resources.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013