Online Training - We Can!® Energize Our Families: Parent Program
Chapter 2: What Is We Can!?
Welcome to Chapter 2 of the Parent Program online training: What Is We Can!?
Before we get into the details of the Parent Program, let’s put it into the context of the overall We Can! movement. This chapter will show you how the overarching program elements of community outreach, media, and partnerships work together to support the goals of We Can!, and how the Parent Program fits into the larger We Can! movement.
Where does the name We Can! come from?
It stands for Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition.
We Can!, a national education program launched in 2005, was developed to provide parents and primary caregivers at home and in community settings with strategies and tools they can use to help youth aged 8-13 stay at a healthy weight. The overall behavioral goals of the program are for children and families to improve food choices, increase physical activity, and reduce screen time.
We Can! is a turn-key, science-based program that was developed through a collaboration of four of the National Institutes of Health:
- the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute,
- the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,
- the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and
- the National Cancer Institute.
We Can! is designed to engage the entire community, and includes educational programs, support materials, training opportunities, and other resources you need to start and sustain an overweight and obesity prevention program in your community.
Overweight in childhood is a complex epidemic and poses many challenges. As a result, parents need support and education to help their children successfully maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent overweight. We Can! was developed to enable NIH to transfer its science-based knowledge to families through the help of communities, partners, and media.
- Communities receive science-based curricula and tools to help them build local partnerships, engage local media, and coordinate outreach events.
- Federal, clinical, outreach, media, and corporate partners use their capacity, reach, and expertise to promote We Can! efforts. And
- National and local media deliver key We Can! messages to families across the country through television, radio, print, and the Web.
We Can! is a growing movement! Any organization or community, however large or small, that is interested in helping youth and their families maintain a healthy weight can join the We Can! movement by signing up as a We Can! community site. There are We Can! community sites in all 50 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Organizations in several other countries have also committed to using We Can! to empower youth and their families.
We Can! community sites make a commitment to promoting healthy weight in youth through coordination of a range of programs and community events for parents and youth. We Can! provides community sites with a variety of science-based resources and curricula from NIH to help mobilize around childhood overweight prevention.
When you sign up to become a community site, you can choose the level of participation that best suits you and tailor We Can! to fit your specific needs. The program is flexible and can be adapted to a variety of settings―rural to urban―and to populations of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Programming and community events can be offered through a variety of settings, including parks and recreation departments, YMCAs, faith-based organizations, health agencies, fitness centers, schools, universities, and worksites.
Community sites engage partners, policymakers, and media to help get the We Can! message out.
In the final chapter, we will provide instructions on signing up and tell you about some of the science-based resources that are available to complement your parent and youth programming.
Partnerships play a critical role in supporting a community site’s efforts to prevent childhood overweight. Collaborations with national and local organizations and corporations offer more resources and opportunities around preventive strategies and outreach efforts than one agency can find on its own.
Media outreach is another major component of the We Can! initiative. The program has received attention through national and local print, radio, and TV, as well as online placements that have launched We Can! messages into millions of Americans’ homes nationwide. Community sites can supplement these efforts by also engaging their local media outlets.
We Can! has two primary audiences: parents or primary caregivers, and youth aged 8-13. In the Parent Program, the focus is on parents and primary caregivers, not only because they are in need of support in helping their families maintain a healthy weight, but also because they are such an important influencing force on children.