Anti-Obesity Pilot Program Launches at Nashua Elementary School

“Bye Daddy!  I love you.  I’ll see you next Wednesday!”  That was the first thing I heard when I arrived at Amherst Street Elementary School in Nashua for Parents’ Night on a cold January evening recently.

Nashua anti-obesity campaign representatives

Nashua Superintendent of Schools Mark Conrad joins Alicia Triantos (intern from Saint Anselm College), Nashua Public Health’s Beverly Doolan, and United Way of Greater Nashua’s Liz Fitzgerald around the WE CAN parent tips display.

“Awww, how sweet,” I thought, as three more busy second-graders rushed in front of me…to be door-holders.  They could see that my arms were full and they were eager to help out.  They were full of questions. “What are you bringing us?”  What are the LIVE UNITED T-shirts for?  “Can I have a balloon?” “Awwww…gotta love second-graders,” I thought. Grateful for their help, I carried more “WE CAN” (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) handouts than I should have and still was able to navigate the doors solo.

The school was bursting with activity.  The 21st Century After School program was just letting out.  The PTSA was in session and lots of folks were busy setting up info tables and gym equipment in preparation of the fun-filled evening of learning that Principal Jennifer Scarpati and school staff had worked hard to coordinate for their families.  There was a warm, friendly atmosphere permeating the building and I was excited to spend the evening with this school community and to see how families would respond to the program.

Nashua anti-obesity campaign raffle table

Members of Nashua High North and South’s Future Educators Association Chapter volunteer to staff the raffle table.

The evening was designed to promote Healthy Eating and Active Living programs and information available at the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, UNH Cooperative Extension, and other local organizations.  And we would introduce the Amherst Street Elementary School community to WE CAN, a national education program designed by the National Institutes of Health to help children ages 8-13 maintain a healthy weight by improving food choices, increasing physical activity, and reducing screen time.

United Way of Greater Nashua has identified obesity as a top risk to the community. The Community Health Improvement Program coordinated by the Greater Nashua Public Health Department convened many of the area’s service providers to discuss ways to address the rapid increase in the local obesity rate.  United Way agreed to support the Nashua School District and Public Health Department in launching an anti-obesity pilot program at Amherst Street Elementary School and at an area child care center.

review of anti-obesity campaign materials

Educators from Lisa’s Tippy Toes Preschool in Merrimack, which also is participating in the anti-obesity pilot program, took advantage of the opportunity to explore what the Amherst Street Elementary School Parents’ Night had to offer.

Amherst Street Elementary School parents will be invited to attend three additional workshops to continue to learn practical strategies and tips to help their families maintain a healthy weight.  Stay tuned for more info on this pilot program and plans for the future.  In the meantime, check out these WE CAN parents’ tips to help your family play more, eat right, and push away the screen:

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