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Top Restaurant Chain Opens Doors to We Can!

April 10, 2009

Hitting “nothing but net”wasn’t the only goal of the March 25 National P.E.P. (Play More, Eat Right, and Push Away the Screen) Rally at the D.C. Armory in Washington, D.C.

Before giving basketball tips to 8-year-old Melanie Sanchez, and other children, NIH Acting Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., provided potentially life-changing tips.

Dr. Tabak teaching a young girl to play basketball

NIH Acting Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D., shoots hoops with a young P.E.P. Rally participant on March 25

The event drew more than two hundred local children, and marked the launch of a new partnership between We Can! and SUBWAY® Restaurants.

"Obesity is a significant public health problem, not just for adults, but also for our children who could suffer from lifelong medical and psychosocial problems," noted Tabak. "We are delighted to work with SUBWAY® Restaurants to educate children and their families about three simple steps they can take for a healthy weight: eat right, move more, and limit screen time."

The kids responded enthusiastically to Dr. Tabak, shouting "We Can!" every time he mentioned the name of the movement.

Photo of young children at rally

They also cheered on boxing champion Laila Ali, Olympic soccer star Tab Ramos, SUBWAY® spokesman Jared Fogle, as well as SUBWAY® Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Moody. All of them touched upon the program’s key three messages as outlined by Dr. Tabak.

After the speeches, kids worked up a sweat playing basketball, stealing the apple (based on a tag-like playground game), kicking a soccer ball, and playing We Can!’s Energy In, Energy Out game. See more photos from the event.

Photo of kids playing a game called Steal the Apple

Modestine Montgomery, an after-school teacher with D.C.’s Asian-American League, watched her students get ready to steal the apple and talked about discovering We Can! online.

Photo of Modestine Montgomery with young students

“After we were invited to the event, I went to the Internet and read all about We Can!,” said Montgomery. “Our after-school program tries to get the kids outdoors for an hour of play at least three days a week, and I found some great games on the We Can! site that we can incorporate.”

“Less time in front of a TV is a wonderful thing,” said Zach George, with Kid Power, a local after-school group that brought some 20 children to the event, and as a result is now interested in partnering further with We Can!

Reaching a greater-than-ever number of teachers like Ms. Montgomery and Mr. George, parents, and the general public is the mission of the new partnership. SUBWAY® celebrity spokespeople Laila Ali and Jared Fogle, and We Can! national coordinator Karen Donato, S.M., gave nearly 40 interviews about the partnership with TV and radio stations across the country.

In addition, a large number of Hispanic media—including Telemundo, CNN En Espanol Network, and Univision—interviewed Tab Ramos. Local We Can! site leaders Autumn Saxton-Ross and Jessica Wallace also spoke with media who attended the event, and discussed We Can! with local mommy bloggers at an informal roundtable session

SUBWAY® is committed to spreading We Can! messages nationwide as part of a co-branded marketing campaign. The campaign will showcase We Can! messages and resources at SUBWAY® restaurants, on the Web site, and through print and online outreach with Scholastic, Inc. The Scholastic aspect alone will reach millions of teachers and families, and the materials – including a colorful “You Are What You Eat” poster, activity pages for kids, and tip sheets for families – are already available free for download at:

SUBWAY® also plans to provide funding for We Can! community site trainings at a handful of the movement’s more than 1,000 registered sites in more than 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 11 other countries. These trainings will facilitate delivery of We Can! curricula and program information to even more parents and children. We Can! is excited to be part of this partnership and looks forward to the greater awareness it will bring to the world about our science-based curricula that help kids maintain a healthy weight.

Photo of Jared and Laila Ali with kids and signed  pledges

The launch has already kicked off that expanded awareness with potential community partners, children and others. Students left the launch after signing pledges committing them to staying active beyond March 25, taking their newfound knowledge and backpacks containing We Can! materials home to families and friends.

We Can! and the We Can! logo are trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

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The partnership between We Can! and SUBWAY takes the form of a co-branded marketing campaign that encourages kids to play more, eat right, and push away the screen; and stems from a Memorandum of Understanding (a formal agreement) between the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and SUBWAY.

Read more about the partnership between We Can! and SUBWAY.

WeCan! Newsletter

Read the NIH press release that describes the P.E.P. (Play more, Eat right, Push away the screen) Rally in Washington, DC on March 25, 2009.

See more photos from the P.E.P. Rally event.

Listen to a sound clip from the P.E.P. Rally event that features Laila Ali. You can also read the transcript of what she says in the sound clip.

Download information to create your own P.E.P. Rally.