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Sunshine State Sheds Light on We Can!™ Activities

We Can! activities cropped up across Florida literally kicking the holiday season into high gear in some places:

Marathon Scholars & T.U.F.F. Kids

Run… walk… roll hard. Study hard.

Those are the tenets of a new program in Central Florida called Marathon Scholars, in which children are encouraged to read 26 books and run/walk/roll 26 miles over a period of several months. The program has roots in We Can!’s CATCH Kids Club curriculum. Nearly two years ago, Sandra Turner, manager of Wellness Services at Leesburg Regional Medical Center (a sponsor of both programs and We Can! community site), realized how few programs were available for children facing overweight in the Lake County area.

“After learning about We Can!, I approached a local childhood obesity expert, who’s a professor at the University of Central Florida, and also the retired director of Food Services of Lake County Schools, to talk about how we could tailor CATCH to our area,” said Turner.

Through Teaching Us Fitness is Fun (T.U.F.F. Kids) programming, kids meet twice a week for six weeks, in hour-long, after-school sessions to learn about physical activity and good nutrition. On Mondays, kids learn about the importance of physical activity. On Wednesdays, they learn about eating healthy, and often get to make a healthy snack from donated foods.

The program has become so popular that all 23 elementary schools in Lake County designed their 2008 summer programs around it, even expanding it all the way down to children in kindergarten.

Organizers hope that Marathon Scholars is met with equal enthusiasm and success. The new program runs until March, and will cross the finish line with an actual marathon on March 28, 2009.

We Can! Overview Telebriefing

Teleconference lines were jam-packed on November 12, when some 80 Floridians from more than 50 county health departments across the state dialed into a We Can! overview presentation by Program Coordinator Karen Donato. Callers learned the nuts and bolts of the program, and heard highlights about how Florida’s existing 48 We Can! community sites are incorporating We Can! programming into their platforms.

Ms. Donato spoke about how the program has blossomed into a national movement with more than 900 registrants in all 50 states and eleven other countries. She discussed its benefits and encouraged participants to incorporate We Can! programming into their platforms. The call was the brainchild of Donna Goodwin, the We Can! contact at the Martin County Health Department community site. Ms. Goodwin serves as the program administrator of the state’s Healthy Communities, Healthy People program, a comprehensive and community-based health promotion and wellness initiative designed to reduce major behavioral risk factors associated with chronic diseases, including obesity. She wanted to educate her colleagues about We Can!’s efficacy and adaptability, and how it works in Martin County.


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