CHIPLEY — Washington County Chamber of Commerce is teaming with Northwest Florida Community Hospital again this year to bring the “We Can!” program to the annual Back To School Fair.
The annual Back To School Fair, which is planned for Tuesday, Aug. 13.
“We’re always looking for volunteers to help with the Back To School Fair,” said Ted Everett, chamber executive director. The fair also needs school supplies to distribute to children.
Last year 3,000 people attended the Back To School Fair, and not only school supplies were distributed.
“There were three tractor-trailers of food, eggs and vegetables, that were handed out,” Everett said. “And it was all gone really quickly. We have some needy families in our county, and this event is a great thing.”
Students also received free haircuts and even bicycle helmets at last year’s event.
“You also might remember, Washington County was recently ranked as 65th of 67 counties in child obesity,” said Everett. “This is a problem, and we have to understand that it affects us as business owners.”
Obese children are likely to have developed diabetes by the time they are 30, which means health care expenses.
“Not only does the health insurance costs rise, but it also affects productivity and absenteeism in the workplace,” Everett said.
The “We Can!” program (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition) is a national movement designed to give parents, caregivers, and entire communities a way to help children 8 to 13 years old stay at a healthy weight, according to the website nhlbi.nih.gov.
Research shows that parents and caregivers are the primary influence on this age group. The “We Can!” education program provides parents and caregivers with tools, fun activities, and more to help them encourage healthy eating, increased physical activity, and reduced time sitting in front of the TV or computer in their entire family, Everett said.
“This year we will be at the Back To School Fair, and we are also working with the schools to get information into the classrooms and to the kids,” Everett said.
We Can! also offers organizations, community groups, and health professionals a centralized resource to promote a healthy weight in youth through community outreach, partnership development, and media activities that can be adapted to meet the needs of diverse populations, according to the website.
Science-based educational programs, support materials, training opportunities, and other resources are available to support programming for youth, parents, and families in the community.
Chamber member and insurance agent Kathy Rudd said that she had encountered children as young as 12 who were uninsurable due to their health risks.
“We have to get busy trying to get our kids educated and get them to where they need to be, size-wise,” Everett said.