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Healthy kids target of Friday events

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POSTED: May 5, 2010 11:57 a.m.
Through a joint effort between the city of Hinesville, Liberty County and Fort Stewart, the county’s public health department is launching the national We Can! health initiative here beginning with a proclamation, lunch and learn and field day activities Friday.
We Can!, or “Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition,” will be taken a step further in Liberty County to include communitywide activities and information for residents of all ages, said health department Administrator Deidre Howell. The partnership between all three entities is the first of its kind for We Can! nationally, Howell added.
The core focus of We Can! is to combat obesity in children by teaching them ways to live healthier lifestyles. “We recognize from a clinical standpoint that there are a significant number of kids [locally] who are obese,” Howell said. “Fort Stewart pediatricians and local pediatricians are working on this.”
The coastal Georgia region boasts more We Can! programs than any other region in the state, Howell said, and established on- and off-post will enable the partners to incorporate developed We Can! curriculum into those activities. “To become a We Can! site, we must hold four large-scale community events, four parenting programs and four children’s programs,” she said.
We Can! is not an isolated pursuit; the initiative lines up with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which incorporates principles and education that align with We Can! curriculum, Howell said.
While most programs through We Can! are geared specifically toward children, Howell said the countywide initiative will also target parent education, and the partnership plans to implement incentives to help all participants reach their goals.
For Howell and others spearheading the effort, the first goal is to develop and implement a community wellness calendar that will let the public know what We Can! activities will be available to them through agencies such as the YMCA, Liberty County Recreation Department and Children and Youth Services on Fort Stewart.
“The plan is not to create [new programs]. We feel generally there’s enough going on, but not every body knows what’s going on, where it is or how much it costs,” Howell said. “We Can! has specific curricula and those can be infused into existing local programs. We’re trying to get as many youth service agencies involved as possible.”
 

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