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New Year Brings New We Can! County

February 4, 2009

Knoxville, located in Knox County in East Tennessee at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is a community committed to finding ways to improve the health and well being of its residents. On January 8, 2009, Knox County furthered this commitment by becoming a We Can! county.

The decision was made following the official kick-off luncheon of the newly formed Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity, which is comprised of a number of area community groups and agencies and is being led by East Tennessee Children's Hospital. The hospital hosted a luncheon with representatives from 30 community agencies, as well as from the Knoxville and Knox County governments, the Tennessee Governor’s Office of Child Care Coordination and the Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee.

The event discussed the challenge of the growing number of overweight children in the area and how to address the problem as a community. Representatives from three Knoxville television stations and the Knoxville News Sentinel were also present.

“East Tennessee Children’s Hospital will implement We Can! in the first year of the county-wide program, and then bring the program to the broader Knoxville area,” said Eleanor F. Stevens, We Can! coordinator for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. “We envision eventually having the program in all 16 East Tennessee counties served by our hospital.”

The hospital first expressed interest in becoming a We Can! city site in September 2008, after learning about We Can! from an article. After receiving more information about the program, Children’s Hospital approached the mayors of both Knoxville and Knox County to get them to sign on the dotted line.

Stevens reports that since the city and county’s We Can! membership is official, several individual committees within the Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity will meet in January and February to work on the specifics of rolling out the We Can! program, including curricula implementation.


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