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Published on April 13, 2011

Valley West Community Wellness Receives We Can!®  Assistance Award

April 13, 2011 

To help address the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, Valley West Community Wellness received a community site assistance grant from the We Can! (Ways toEnhance Children's Activity & Nutrition)® childhood obesity prevention program. Developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), We Can! supports local efforts to help children and families maintain an active lifestyle and a healthy weight. Childhood obesity is a public health crisis in the United States, and in Illinois, more than 35% of children ages 10-17 are obese according to the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. Illinois has the 10th highest percentage of overweight and obese children in the United States. 

Valley West has been teaching parents and caregivers how to get the whole family to eat right, move more and spend less time in front of TV and computer screens since they joined the We Can! movement in 2010.  

“This grant will go a long way in helping us bring this nationally recognized program to the local communities,” says Valley West Health Promotion Specialist Beckie Frieders, a certified health education specialist (CHES). “This program is a hands on approach to teaching parents the skills they need to help their families make healthy food choices, become more physically active, and reduce screen time.” The next session of We Can! begins at Valley West on June 16. The program is free, but registration is required. 

Valley West is one of 30 registered We Can! community sites across the country to receive community assistance support of up to $3,000 to implement programs that:

  • Promote We Can!’s three key behaviors (improving food choices, increasing physical activity, and reducing screen time);
  • Educate and encourage parents and caregivers and 8–13-year-olds to engage in one or more of these three key behaviors;
  • Make the most of local partnerships; and
  • Are sustainable after the funding period ends.

According to Community Wellness Supervisor Cindy Johnston RN, BSN, the grant money will be used to help purchase supplies and promotional items for the attendees for the next parent session of We Can!, and will help defray the costs of the Screen Free Week Kick-Off Event on April 15. 

“Our Screen Free Week Kick-Off Event is a family event. We’ve got something for everyone, as well as an idea sheet for the following week. We’re challenging families to take a week off from the screen use the time they would have spent on the couch or in front of the computer exploring healthy activities with the entire family,” says Johnston. The Valley West Screen Free Week Kick-Off Event includes family board games, crafts, storytelling, kid-friendly snacks, and an idea sheet for screen free activities. This is a family event, and parents must attend with their children. Open to all ages, games and crafts are suitable for children ages 3 – 10. This event is free, but registration is required. 

We Can! was launched by the NIH in 2005 to provide science-based strategies and resources for parents, caregivers and communities to help youth ages 8–13 stay at a healthy weight by improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and reducing screen time.   

Valley West Community Hospital, located in Sandwich, is part of the KishHealthSystem. To learn more or register for events or programs, please call Valley West Community Wellness at 815.786.3962.

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