Project Healthy Schools

Ann Arbor, Michigan


The University of Michigan Health System’s (UMHS) Cardiovascular Center, M-Fit Promotion Division, and Mott Children’s Hospital are working together with Ann Arbor Public Schools, the University of Michigan School of Public Health, the Washtenaw County Health Department, and several community leaders and businesses to offer We Can!® programming to youths and parents in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Operating primarily as an in-school programming vehicle, this coalition of community organizations is implementing CATCH Kids Club, Media-Smart Youth®, and the Parent Curriculum.

Key Site Successes

  • Parent Curriculum was modified to meet the parents’ needs in scheduling and other aspects.
  • CATCH program generated high levels of interest from participants.

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Community Outreach and Events

Ann Arbor got its community involved with We Can!. The site participated in five community events that attracted more than 2,500 community members, generated media coverage within the university, and fostered partnerships with a variety of organizations in the community.

The events included:

  • We Can! Kick-Off at Hockey Game (February 2006)
    Ann Arbor families love sports and they turned out for this match between rival high schools. We Can! was a presence before, during, and after the game with T-shirts to give away, goodie bags filled with the We Can! brochure and booklet, a discount coupon for the on-site fitness center, and other items. Well-informed staff answered questions, a bulletin board display provided information, and public address announcements also were made during the game. Approximately 1,400 people attended the game and heard the announcements, and more than 50 people picked up goodie bags.

  • Energy Expo (February 2006)
    M-Fit Health Promotion Division planned the University of Michigan Health System health fair for employees that focused on the importance of more physical activity. Approximately 900 people attended this lunch time event.

  • Food, Fun, and Fitness Event (March 2006)
    Nearly 375 youths and adults attended this health fair at the Saline Recreation Center. The event featured community healthy eating and activity resources with about 20 partners. It included healthy menu items from local restaurants, a cholesterol screening, blood pressure screening, and raffles for prizes such as two bikes donated by Saline School Food Service. A registered dietitian started conversations with individuals and answered any questions.

  • Pediatric Cancer Survivors’ Day (March 2006)
    We Can! brochures and booklets were shared with individuals who survived cancer and their families who attended this UMHS Cancer Center–sponsored event. This audience is very interested in improving and maintaining their health, so the We Can! materials were warmly received.

  • Michigan Healthy Communities Initiative, Active You Recognition Program (May 2006)
    This event recognized teams and individuals at UMHS who were the most active. We Can! materials (booklets and brochures) were prominently displayed, and participants were encouraged to help themselves. A registered dietitian and exercise physiologist were on hand to answer food and activity questions.

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Media Outreach

We Can! was featured in the University of Michigan Bulletin, which was distributed to 20,000 UMHS employees to inform them about the We Can! Parent Curriculum courses. In addition, children attending two elementary schools took home class flyers to their parents about CATCH, and children from several other elementary schools took home flyers about the We Can! Parent Curriculum class. Information about the Parent Curriculum course was included in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, Recreation and Education winter catalog that is distributed to all households with a school-age child.

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Seven partners provided support, materials, and expertise to Ann Arbor during the past year of We Can! program implementation. These included:

  • Ann Arbor Public Schools, Recreation and Education Department located the program site, distributed promotional materials, registered participants, and provided materials for CATCH and parent programs.
  • Health Place 101, a school-based health clinic at a middle school, provided staff support, promoted the Media-Smart Youth class, and acted as a liaison with the school.
  • Saline Recreation Center promoted the program and provided facilities for the Food, Fun, and Fitness event.
  • Saline Schools’ Food Service Department donated bikes to be used as prizes.
  • Washtenaw County Health Department provided support at the Food, Fun, and Fitness event.
  • PUPS (Pick Up the Pace Saline Committee), the city of Saline’s wellness committee, provided community event support by endorsing and promoting the event and leading a walk at the event.
  • M Care, a managed care provider, sent out Parent Curriculum fliers to specific subsets of its clients, such as individuals with heart disease or diabetes, to promote various classes.

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Parent Curriculum

We Can! Energize Our Families: Curriculum for Parents and Caregivers

Michigan implemented the Parent Curriculum to six mothers at a health education resource center. The group met for three weekly sessions and completed two lessons in each session. To condense the program, the facilitators combined the discussion periods to consolidate time.

The mothers reported enjoying the materials, brochures, and handbooks as well as the snacks, such as yogurt parfaits, added to some sessions. Michigan found that advertising in pediatricians’ offices helped them to recruit participants.

Analysis of two complete respondent surveys did not show any statistically significant effects. However, scores on measures of energy balance knowledge, portion size knowledge and attitudes, healthy eating behaviors, and healthy food behaviors suggested positive movement toward We Can! objectives.

"Once they got into it, they really enjoyed it!” - Course Facilitator

View Program Summary Report Data for the Parent Curriculumpdf document icon (4.5 MB)


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Youth Curricula

CATCH Kids Club

The CATCH Kids Club Curriculum was designed for children in grades K–5 in afterschool or summer-care settings to help children adopt healthier dietary and physical activity behaviors by positively influencing the health environments of recreation programs, schools, and homes.

The Ann Arbor site reached 31 children through three afterschool implementations at Lakewood Elementary School, Pittsfield Elementary School, and Ann Arbor Open School. Each school implemented CATCH three days a week for 45-60 minutes each session.

An analysis of 18 respondent surveys found statistically significant increases in healthy eating behaviors: eating fruits and vegetables. CATCH participants’ intention to drink skim or low-fat milk instead of regular milk improved. They also ate more fruits and vegetables. Although not statistically significant, scores on four measures (food attitudes: self efficacy and intentions to drink skim milk; healthy eating behaviors: reducing fat; and physical activity attitudes) suggested positive movement toward We Can! objectives.

View Program Summary Report Data for the CATCH Curriculumpdf document icon (4.5 MB)

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Contact Information

Project Healthy Schools: A Community-University Collaborative
2850 South Industrial
Suite 600
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104-7100

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Related Information

List of all We Can! community sites

Last Updated: February 13, 2013