Armstrong County has joined the We Can! movement as the first We Can! County in the United States. We Can! stands for “Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition.” We Can! is a national program designed for families and communities to help children maintain a healthy weight. The program focuses on three important behaviors: improved food choices, increased physical activity, and reduced screen time.
A new school-based childhood obesity initiative called HEALTHY Armstrong was launched in September 2007 and is incorporating We Can! into its activities to meet its goal of reducing childhood obesity in Armstrong County. The County’s overweight and obesity rates are above average for adults and children. One local clinic estimated that 56% of adult patients served there were overweight or obese. This is 25% higher than the national average of 31%, according to the 1999-2000 National Center for Health Statistics. A 2005 Pennsylvania mandated BMI survey of students found that overweight Armstrong School district students exceeded 35% of the school district population as compared to a national average of 17%.
Many community leaders meet bi-monthly in an effort to combat childhood obesity. The name of the childhood obesity prevention project is HEALTHY Armstrong. HEALTHY stands for Healthy Eating Active Lifestyles Together Helping Youth. It is a collaboration of ACMH Hospital, ACMH Foundation, Armstrong School District, Children’s Community Pediatrics-Armstrong, the County of Armstrong, and UPMC Health Plan.
Armstrong County, which calls itself “the heart of Western Pennsylvania,” has had a soft spot for We Can!–based programming since it became the first official We Can! County. Like many rural communities, Armstrong County has the challenge of offering recreational opportunities to individuals living in a large geographic area—in this case some 664 square miles. But leaders are up to the challenge, especially when it comes to helping local children maintain a healthy weight.
For more information about how HEALTHY Armstrong contributed to Armstrong County becoming the first WeCan! County click on the link below:
We Can!™ is a trademark of the U.S. DHHS.