We Can!® County: Knox County, Tennessee

Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity

The Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity, led by East Tennessee Children's Hospital, has one goal: to reverse the trend of childhood obesity by helping the community's children become healthier. The Coalition was instrumental in helping Knox County, TN, become a We Can! County in January 2009. Since the beginning of the year, the Coalition has been working with its 75 members–representing 44 organizations and agencies–to reach its goal.

Coalition committees focused on programs, community awareness, funding, advocacy, and assessment and outcomes, all work together to plan, promote, and evaluate the site's obesity initiatives, many of which include the We Can! program.

Read more about the Coalition's implementation of We Can! in their community, as well as their successful collaborations with local partners below.


During September and November of 2009, Hardin Valley Elementary School physical education teacher, Michelle Karlon, initiated the “Family Fitness Challenge” to engage families in promoting healthy living through We Can! materials. The “Challenge” included a series of educational classes and activities taught by a nutritionist from the East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Prizes, such as pedometers, trampolines, and other fitness equipment, were given to 120 participants for their efforts to improve their nutrition choices throughout the series.


The Coalition's partnership with the Junior League of Knoxville has also led to some of the program's successes. The latest We Can!–oriented initiative was a joint effort by local SUBWAY® restaurants, the Junior League of Knoxville, and Knox County Schools. Local elementary schools and restaurants sold special We Can! wristbands in SUBWAY® colors, which gave students a dollar off of a SUBWAY® restaurants FRESH FIT FOR KIDS™ Meal. “It was a great way to bring greater awareness of We Can! to our entire community,” said Coalition Coordinator and We Can! site leader, Eleanor Stevens.

The Junior League will use the proceeds to fund grants for youth health programs through Knox County schools and organizations, many of which have We Can! programming in place already.

A partnership with Earth Fare, a natural food retailer based in Asheville, North Carolina, also helped the Coalition in their efforts by running nutrition awareness classes, during which We Can! materials were used. In March of 2010, Earth Fare will hold a healthy foods tasting in stores for families, while simultaneously promoting outdoor fitness with local celebrity long–distance runner, Missy Kane, and Greenway stores.

Outreach & Events

On September 18, 2009, the Knoxville News Sentinel ran a story on the “Family Fitness Challenge,” and more than 111,000 of the newspaper's readers were able to learn about the program's launch and its activities. Now that the “Challenge” is over, it is being assessed for efficacy. The Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity will then explore how to expand it to additional schools in the area.

Contact Information

P.O. Box 15010
Knoxville‚ Tennessee 37916
Phone: 865–541–8218
Email: efstevens@etch.com

Located in Knoxville‚ Tennessee‚ East Tennessee Children’s Hospital is an independent‚ not-for-profit pediatric medical center that has served children since 1937. The Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity is a group within the hospital that works to reduce overweight and obesity in the community.

For additional contact information, send an email to nhlbiinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov.

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Last Updated: February 13, 2013