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We Can!® City: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

UPMC Health Plan

"We Can! empowers parents in Western Pennsylvania with innovative resources to help their families maintain healthy lifestyles. We are proud to be part of this initiative to help youth in our region achieve better health."
�Diane P. Holder, President, UPMC Health Plan and UPMC Insurance Services Division

Pittsburgh has many "claims to fame:" it's the hometown of Gene Kelly and Christina Aguilera, the city where Dr. Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccine, and a vibrant We Can! City, focused on promoting health and physical activity among its families and youth. UPMC Health Plan�a division of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center�and its numerous partners�the City of Pittsburgh, the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Children's Community Pediatrics, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, H.J. Heinz Company, and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh (JCC)�have committed to implementing We Can! programs throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Mayor Luke RavenstahlNot only did Mayor Luke Ravenstahl declare Pittsburgh a We Can! City on November 29, 2007�it was also the day that a partnership between We Can! and the Association of Children's Museums was announced at a launch in Boston and corresponding events across the country (New York, NY; Las Vegas and Carson City, NV; Memphis and Oak Ridge, TN; Rockford, IL�and Pittsburgh, PA as well). Read more about the announcements from the former Acting U.S. Surgeon General and former NIH Director.

At that time, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Deputy Director also welcomed H.J. Heinz Company as a new corporate We Can! partner, gave remarks, and watched as a group of children made a fitness presentation. Read more below. You can also skip ahead to each of the following topics by clicking on them.

Key Successes

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Pittsburgh's We Can! initiative is that one of its key partners�UPMC Health Plan�also supports the HEALTHY Armstrong coalition in nearby Armstrong County. This coalition continues its activities into 2010; read more about the HEALTHY Armstrong coalition.

UPMC Health Plan's involvement has also contributed to an increased awareness of We Can! thanks to the UPMC Health Plan website. The site has integrated We Can! messaging, and dedicated an entire section to our movement, with links to downloadable, co-branded We Can! materials and a wide variety of articles and videos about We Can! Pittsburgh.

There's also a cool "Go, Slow, Whoa" interactive module and game that UPMC Health Plan adapted from NHLBI in an innovative manner.

See for yourself at http://www.upmchealthplan.com/about/wecan.html.

UMPC Health Plan We Can!

In April 2010, UPMC Health Plan hosted a We Can! regional training that was held at the Marriott Pittsburgh City Center. More than 100 individuals registered for this event, representing six different states. Participants received training from national experts from NIH on science-based curricula and heard from successful national and local We Can! sites.

We Can! Pittsburgh partners HEALTHY Armstrong, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh (JCC) presented their We Can! activities and programs at the training.

UMPC Health Plan We Can! Regional TrainingUPMC Health Plan representatives also attended two We Can! strategic planning workshops that occurred in 2010external disclaimer. Participation in these events helps the Health Plan determine where to focus its efforts as it continues to seek out opportunities for We Can! events and activities with its various partners within the We Can! Pittsburgh initiative.

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The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh continues to host fun, energetic, and informative We Can!-related events. In the past two years, more than 8,000 people have participated in more than 75 public programs and events focused on We Can!, as well as other events focused on healthy eating and physical activity. You can find these events on the museum's online calendar at http://www.pittsburghkids.org/Templates/CMP_Calendar.aspx. (To identify We Can!-oriented events and programs, scroll down and look for "We Can! Events" under Categories.)

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh (JCC) joined the We Can! Pittsburgh initiative in December 2009. It has offered multiple sessions of the We Can! Energize Our Families: Parent Program this year. The JCC has also been actively involved as a We Can! community site and participated in the We Can! strategy workshop that was held in February 2010. Read more about the JCC's programming here.

In July 2010, the JCC and UPMC Health Plan teamed up to produce a video for the We Can! video contest. The video, entitled "Break Time," features children from the JCC's summer camp participating in multiple physical activities and making healthy food choices. The result of this fun collaboration between the two We Can! Pittsburgh partners can be viewed on the We Can! Facebook pageexternal disclaimer. The JCC will continue to seek ways to incorporate the We Can! curriculum into its programming.

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UMPC Health Plan We Can! PartnersSeveral Western Pennsylvania organizations have stepped up to support UPMC Health Plan's commitment to We Can!. They include:

  • Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
  • City of Pittsburgh
  • Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
  • Children's Community Pediatrics
  • H.J. Heinz Company
  • Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh (JCC)


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Outreach & Events

One of the best ways to reach the greatest number of people is through an effective website�and as noted above, UPMC Health Plan has just the ticket. Not only are We Can!-based messages woven into its site, there's also a video vignette which highlights the program's successes in neighboring county Armstrong County, profiles Pittsburgh becoming a We Can! City, and more. The website, http://www.upmchealthplan.com/about/wecan.html, is also a great way to promote We Can! Pittsburgh events that are offered by the initiative's partner organizations. Event details are posted on the website and also shared through e-mail blasts developed and distributed to all partner organizations by UPMC Health Plan.

The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Childrens Museum We Can! EventsIn 2010, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh has held multiple We Can!-related events:

  • In April, Slackline Pittsburgh's talented performers provided high-wire demonstrations and helped kids learn how to balance and walk on slacklines, which are similar to tightropes.
  • Family dance parties, held at the museum's on-site theater, with dance tunes, bubbles, and lighting effects, encouraged people to "get down," and get back up again.
  • Summer events included demonstrations and workshops for a variety of activities such as fencing, golf, and hula hooping.
  • The museum's big summer event, Game On!, featured an afternoon of timeless, active games that some children may never have played�but their parents or grandparents remember�such as sack races, water balloon toss, hopscotch, and relays.

Past programming has included:

  • The Great American Backyard Campout, a simulated campout that featured an afternoon of "campout" fun, including sing-alongs, storytelling, hiking tips, and healthy recipe suggestions (such as creating healthy trail mix).
  • The Chicago Youth Circus performance in August 2009. This troupe of inner-city Chicago youth travels internationally, winning high honors in competitions and training with elite circus artists like Cirque du Soleil. One of their performance themes is combating childhood obesity through highly engaging physical activity-like circus arts. Their visit included workshops to teach visitors juggling, unicycle, and other activities.

Pittsburgh Children's Museum We Can! EventsThe Children's Museum also participated in the We Can! strategy workshop that was held in May 2010. Upcoming fall activities include ballet demonstrations and workshops with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. The Children's Museum will continue to create additional programming, educational materials, and youth and family activities in the months ahead.

H. J. Heinz Company

In July 2010, H. J. Heinz continued to spread the word about the We Can! program at its summer employee picnic. Employees played softball, volleyball, and cornhole (bag toss), and took a one-mile health walk. They also had the chance to learn how to hula hoop (or improve existing skills) and participate in a scavenger hunt. All employees were given a Heinz recipe that was co-branded with the We Can! logo along with a jump rope and bag of nuts to help promote healthy eating and physical exercise. These recipes were also included in delivery bags at Right by Nature, a local Pittsburgh health food store, and Good Apples, an e-commerce grocery that delivers fresh foods to local workplaces. Heinz is very excited about the We Can! Pittsburgh initiative and will be developing additional events and activities in the months to come.

The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC/Children's Community Pediatrics (CCP)

The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is excited to begin offering We Can! events and activities. They want to increase awareness of the We Can! program with employees and plan to host a fall health fair, featuring We Can! materials and other helpful information. They are also developing some programming activities for this fall within the Children's Community Pediatrics offices that will help teach parents about healthy eating and encourage physical exercise. These free workshops, entitled We Can!: A Parent Guide to Family, Fitness and Fun!, will teach parents easy, fun and practical ways for their kids and family to improve food choices, increase physical activity, and reduce screen time (TV, computers, and video games).

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Contact Information

For more information on Pittsburgh's We Can! platform, please send a letter to:

UPMC Health Plan
One Chatham Center
112 Washington Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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

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Last Updated: February 13, 2013