We Can!® City: Savannah, Georgia


The city of Savannah, Georgia, is traditionally known for its Southern charm and hospitality—so it was no surprise that the city has welcomed We Can! with open arms. Savannah is the second city—out of eight—in the state of Georgia to join
We Can!. And Savannah has played an integral role in recruiting other We Can! Cities and Counties throughout the Coastal Health District, including Brunswick, Pembroke, and Woodbine and McIntosh Counties.

Savannah's involvement in the We Can! program extends from local community events and programming to participation in regional and national events, such as the 2010 We Can! strategy workshop in Washington, DC, and the 2010 We Can! Brunswick Regional Training. The City's efforts in the We Can! program continue to pave the way for other cities, counties, and community sites in Georgia and throughout the nation.

The sections below detail Savannah's efforts with the We Can! program. For more information on how Savannah is using the We Can! program to help residents lead healthier lives, click on the links below to jump to certain sections.

Key Successes

We Can! Savannah kicked off the program by partnering with the YMCA's Pioneering Healthier Communities (PHC) initiative, which focuses on policy and environmental change in communities to promote healthy lifestyles. Following the initial partnership, Savannah's involvement in the community—and in the We Can! program—grew, as the city hosted We Can! events, implemented We Can! programming, and even influenced local policy change around healthy eating. For example, a policy in Savannah was set in place that for all catered events, nutrition information for food offered must be made available.

"The Coastal Health District's mission is to assure conditions in which people can be healthy, and to provide leadership in the prevention of disease and injury," said Cristina Gibson, MPH, director, Health Promotion & Disease Prevention with the Coastal Health District. "That's why we were delighted to discover We Can!."

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The city launched its first series of We Can! Parent Program classes at the Forsyth Farmers' Market in June 2009. Classes ran on the second Saturday of the month for six months, as part of the market's Health Pavilion. Shortly after the launch of the Parent Program, We Can! gained visibility throughout the city and sparked interest among other organizations and audiences, including Savannah's middle schools who are interested in incorporating Media–Smart Youth® into the school health curriculum.

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The city's recent success would not have been possible without partnerships formed between local community organizations and the Coastal Health District's Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Team, led by Program Director Cristina Gibson. Local partners include: the City of Savannah, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, the Boys and Girls Club, West Broad Street YMCA, Youth Futures Authority, Performance Initiatives, Savannah Local Food Collaborative, and the Chatham County Health Department.

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Outreach & Events

A few days before Savannah launched its We Can! City program, Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson was joined by several other notables, including Dr. Diane Weems, the Chief Medical Officer of the Chatham County Health Department, members of Healthy Savannah, and other community partners involved in implementing the We Can! Parent Program and Media–Smart Youth, in issuing a proclamation declaring June 13 We Can! Day.

After an announcement was made on a local radio station about Savannah's
We Can! City status, the City officially celebrated. The Savannah Sand Gnats, the local minor league baseball team, rolled out the day's event in style. At the stadium, local youngsters were led through an "official" Sand Gnats warm–up to encourage and inspire physical activity, while other fans hula–hooped in front of the stadium.

The incredibly successful day left residents primed for more We Can! events.

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Contact Information

Cristina Gibson
Coastal Health District
24 Oglethorpe Professional Boulevard
Savannah, GA 31406
Phone: (912) 644-5209

Email: cpgibson@dhr.state.ga.us

The Coastal Health District serves Bryan‚ Camden‚ Chatham‚ Effingham‚ Glynn‚ Liberty‚ Long and McIntosh counties in the state of Georgia. Its mission is to assure conditions in which people can be healthy and to provide leadership in the prevention of disease and injury.

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

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Last Updated: February 13, 2013