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

Perspectives (January 2018)

Sara Merz, Executive Director

With the new year underway, I’m reflecting on the past year, and looking forward to an exciting 2018. Internally, AHA has been implementing capacity-building recommendations over the last year, thanks to a grant from the John Rex Endowment. Our Board of Directors is playing a strong role, and wrote a new strategic plan to have the greatest impact to improve health and well-being in Wake County. We’ll continue to strengthen AHA, which means learning new things, working on our own infrastructure, practicing new approaches and strategies to make a bigger impact, and raising funds to do the work, while we implement the strategic plan.

It is not enough to increase our community’s knowledge. Following our strategic plan, we’ve begun setting higher targeted outcomes and emphasizing knowledge leading to more people committing to meaningful action. This is in place with our upcoming Dig In!, with the Let’s Move Outside work we’re doing with the YMCA and community partners (focused on increasing the number of kids playing and volunteering outdoors), and with the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Resilience Initiative.

We are continually in awe of the way the ACEs Resilience work is galvanizing our community and igniting such an urgent desire to improve people’s lives. Nearly 300 people attended the Dec. 5 “What’s Working in Wake County” event that highlighted work to reduce future ACEs and mitigate the impact of trauma.

Attendees had an opportunity to talk about what they heard from the speakers and to write down their own commitment to increase resilience. We will follow up periodically with each person who wrote these commitments to learn what actions they took. AHA is prioritizing action—again, it is not enough to increase our community’s knowledge; we are laser-focused on results. The December ACEs event is an example of people coming together, gaining resources and knowledge, and then determining what actions they will take in their personal and professional roles to make change.

We honor the work people in this community have been doing for years to improve people’s lives and make this a better place to live. And AHA wants to help make it bigger. People are sharing incredible expertise with each other to help us all make a difference. We’re looking forward to the ACEs Advisory Board and the Steering Committee meetings, to schools finalizing their applications for AHA’s two healthy schools awards, to more people committing to increase access to healthy food in Wake County as a result of attending Dig In! on March 10, and to a myriad of other work across the county. Thank you for your partnership, and here’s to AHA’s vision of Happy, Healthy Wake in 2018.

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