A New Georgia We Can!® Site Gets Cooking with the Help of a New Local Partner in the Restaurant Business

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Posted June 14‚ 2010

If you're an avid reader of our eNewsletter, by now you probably know that SUBWAY® restaurants is a We Can! partner on the national level. The franchise has helped spread our key messaging through a number of coast–to–coast activities including restaurant door decals and menu boards, sponsorship of We Can! regional trainings, and a three–stop, cross–country tour by former Olympic soccer star Tab Ramos on our program's behalf.

But did you know that local SUBWAY® franchise owners are also getting into the mix?

The owner of five northwest Georgia SUBWAY® restaurants has stepped up to provide healthy snacks for the rest of the year, for children participating in youth–oriented We Can! programs through the North Georgia Health Care Center (NGHCC), a new We Can! site.

But that's not all.

Thanks to a recent, SUBWAY–funded We Can! regional training in Atlanta, NGHCC's Program Director Sharron Mitchell has even more ideas for future programs.

"I heard the [We Can!] representative from Roswell talk about what they were doing with their city—they had done a 'Lunch and Learn about We Can!'—that made me think that we could do something similar here in Ringgold," said Mitchell.

Reenergized by what she heard, Mitchell scheduled a meeting with the Ringgold Mayor, who was familiar with the program from helping launch Ringgold's We Can! activities with an official proclamation and event that garnered media coverage, in January 2010. Mitchell discussed offering a parent training to all City employees as a monthly 'Lunch and Learn' about healthy choices for kids and families.

In addition, Mitchell is planning to approach both the City Council and County government with the same idea.

It's not just the Atlanta training that's stirred Mitchell. Witnessing the benefits of We Can! programs on local families firsthand has turned her into an impassioned supporter of the program. She tells the story of eight–year–old Sarah, whose mother attended the Parent Program earlier this year. Sarah was overweight and didn't spend much time outside, but this began to change after Sarah's mother Susan made some simple but dramatic changes based on what she learned.

"They have started going outside every day, after Sarah gets out of school," said Mitchell. "Sarah had never had any interest in a bicycle before, but her birthday fell during the parent training—at the Parent Program one night Susan said, "Oh, I know exactly what I'm going to get Sarah for her birthday!" They bought her a bicycle and now she would rather go outside and ride her bike than watch TV.

Sarah's family has made other lifestyle changes, too. Because the family likes video games, they purchased a Wii Fit to makes screen time healthier by keeping them moving. Plus, they signed Sarah up for NGHCC's swimming lessons, and have cut back on trips for fast food after school.

The Parent Program attended by Sarah's mother was just one of multiple events the NGHCC rolled out shortly after becoming a site. Using We Can!, the center offered a week–long class for children that included a field trip to a local SUBWAY® restaurant, where the children took a tour, ordered off the FRESH FIT FOR KIDS™ menu, and talked about ingredients and the nutritional composition of their meals. Later that week, the children created posters to promote We Can! at a local health fair. Then, in late April and early May, NGHCC staff attended another health event to promote their We Can! programming. This time, they set up a table at the Katusa County Family Collaborative Kids Day, which attracted a group of agencies and service providers for children and families, where they gave out information on We Can!.

"We love the Parent Program... the materials are great and you don't really need much to do it," said Mitchell. "I am not a nutritionist so I needed something that was already designed and easy to put into place, and I was really excited when I found We Can!. The materials are easy to work with and it's all right there for you if you want to do it."

What's the center's next recipe for continued success? More Parent Programs in July and a potential partnership with the nearby Chattanooga, TN, YMCA that is already implementing CATCH Kids Club.

Stay tuned to this eNewsletter for updates.

Last Updated: February 13, 2013