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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Perspectives (September 2015)

Sara Merz, Director

Sara Merz, Director

We all want a healthier Wake County, and we all have busy days with full workloads. The key is to think differently about how we can integrate this work into our organizations. We may not be able to do “more,” but we can do “different” and reframe our current work.

At the end of August, we heard from Bill Lindsay, a city manager who has integrated “Health in All Policies” into all his town’s departments. The room was packed with over 100 community leaders who got really excited about what is possible. WakeMed provided breakfast, Wake County Human Services and the YMCA of the Triangle co-hosted. Some leaders committed to look at how their organizations (including towns and the County) can move toward this.

As the 2016 Wake County Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) process begins, there is such opportunity to align all of our efforts. We are all providing valuable, community-changing services, from planning to systems change to direct services, and they are all crucial. Donald Gintzig, CEO of WakeMed and co-chair of the CHNA Steering Committee, last week stated the importance of working together to find ways to make this community even better – rather than say any sector isn’t doing “enough.” I so appreciate this sentiment!

Some of the attendees at our “Health in All Policies” meeting included leaders in Parks and Recreation – from Raleigh, Cary, Knightdale, and Apex – and from the YMCA of the Triangle – all of whom are using AHA’s “Sports Snack Game Plan” to impact 28,000 kids a year in their team sports. It doesn’t take more administrators or more coaches. The coaches are just sharing information on healthy snacks, and asking that if parents bring snacks, they aim for fruit and water. This is huge, and I’d love to see all the towns in Wake County roll this out.

bill with slide cropped

Richmond, CA, City Manager Bill Lindsay

A few of our favorite notes from Bill Lindsay’s talk are these:

  • Health in All Policies is city management as “preventative medicine,” and all city staff are “community clinicians.”
  • “I keep Richmond healthy by cleaning parks for the kids,” (a quote from a city maintenance worker). Everyone really does have a role!
  • The HIAP approach recognizes that health and prevention are impacted by policies that are managed by non-health government/non-government entities. Many strategies that improve health will also help to meet the policy objectives of other agencies.

Health in All Policies Resources

As follow-up, we are sharing a few resource:

At the close of the event, leaders considered what day actions they could take in 30 days and 90 days to move toward integrating health in their organization’s policies or practices. We’ll be doing follow up to see what actions people take – and encourage you to consider what may be possible in your organization’s sphere of influence, whether it is with your employees, your customers, on site, or in the spheres where you work.


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