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AHA fosters and supports community efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity the way of life in Wake County.

Perpectives December 2012

Sheree Vodicka, AHA Director

Sheree Vodicka, AHA Director

If you missed our December quarterly meeting held at the Andrews Center, you missed out on a lot. AHA revealed its new Strategic Plan for 2013-2015, and Wake County Human Services’ Sonya Reid shared Wake County’s strategic direction for obesity prevention. In addition, the team heard an update about Eat Smart, Move More of Wake – an obesity prevention stakeholders group and their recent selection of two strategies from the soon-to-be-released state obesity prevention plan.

We had really great discussion about the plans and next steps, which are to re-structure AHA to allow us to most effectively achieve our mission and new, measurable objectives, and possible re-structuring of our existing work groups. I want to set out a vision for that restructuring, and look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

At the meeting I mentioned an idea for transitioning to a more regional structure, rather than one based on topical areas.

Some topics are cross-cutting, and don’t make sense to do regionally. One example of that is public relations and communications that our PR Work Group supports. Public relations is the strategy to achieving one of our larger goals – to be “the go to source” of evidence-based and best practices on healthy eating and active living.

But some of our work groups may need to be re-structured. For example, one of our new goals is to work with municipalities on multi-modal transportation issues. We don’t have a work group right now that is in place and ready to work on that.

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how people get involved in things. What makes people really get engaged?

The answer that keeps coming up for me is ‘self-interest.’

People tend to get engaged when the work that a group is doing touches them personally – it impacts their own back yards, their own families or their own interests.

It makes me wonder if we might be better served by a regional approach where people get involved based on their home or business address to make a difference right there where their kids attend preschool or school, where they work, where they play and where they worship. And also where relationships and connections exist that lend themselves to the work we are trying to accomplish.

Something to ponder…

Our next Quarterly Meeting is March 15th from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. – location to be announced.  

On a related note, I’ve recently had the great pleasure of working with the Raleigh Urban Ag Work Group, an ad hoc group of very talented, skilled and passionate group of people to help secure a “win” for community gardens in the City of Raleigh’s zoning ordinance. While I’m certainly proud of the “W” in Raleigh Urban Ag’s column,  the way so many partners pulled together, committed the time and expertise to the effort, and stood together in message and in voice to see the project through to its end is perhaps more important.

Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”  I think the Raleigh Urban Ag story demonstrates that.

As the holidays near and 2012 draws to a close, I just want to thank each and every one of you again for your commitment to the health of Wake County residents. What AHA does is so important – bringing all of you, our partners, together, so that we can collectively have a greater impact than any one of us alone could have. The power of synergy is so evident in our work. We hope you see it too.

Happy Holidays to one and all. And we’ll see you in 2013!

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