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Wild Enthusiasm for We Can! in West Virginia

April 10, 2009

West Virginia’s tourism motto is “wild and wonderful”—and that’s the reception We Can! is getting there, too.

In the last e-newsletter, we told you how the Office of Healthy Schools with the West Virginia Department of Education was offering $20,000 to be distributed in grants of up to a thousand dollars each for schools that wished to conduct the We Can! Energize Our Families: Curriculum for Parents and Caregivers.

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Well, the response has been wonderful, according to Melanie Purkey, Executive Director of the Office of Healthy Schools, West Virginia Department of Education.

“The grants have already been snapped up by 35 schools since the January launch of the program,” said Purkey. “Most teachers have requested at least 20 booklets, which comes out to an estimated 700+ parents being engaged in the program.”

One of the schools that has already completed the program is Madison Middle School (MMS, Madison, West Virginia), which has 595 students. Jerry Workman, a West Virginia Health and Physical Education Leadership Academy Director and Chairman of the Health and Physical Education Department at MMS, reports that they kicked off the program on March 2. Each week between nine and 11 parents—some of whom have children at MMS and others who were just interested members of the community—attended the session. Boone County Food Services supported the program by providing healthy snacks such as fruit and cheese, as well as graham cracker cookies and baked potato chips, for each session.

“Parents have been delighted by the We Can!-based program,” says Workman. “One father even told me that he thinks this is an incredible opportunity for parents, and was glad for the chance to spend quality time with his son whom he says needed better information on being more active and eating better.”

The West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools has partnered with the West Virginia State Medical Association and the Bureau of Public Health to implement their We Can! project.

In addition, the Office of Healthy Schools has contacted West Virginia University to evaluate the program in 20 of the 35 schools. Those findings are expected this summer, and will determine whether the program continues.

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

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