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

Perspectives (May 2018)

Sara Merz, Executive Director

It’s been an exciting couple of months in Wake County; I’m eager to share a few highlights about ACEs, the Thrive NC Food Summit and our school awards. First, regarding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs.):

  • AHA was honored to host Lynn Waymer, VP of Community Engagement and Communications or KPJR Films, which produced the movie Resilience. Lynn came to Raleigh to share her expertise and to learn more about Wake County’s ACEs Resilience initiative. She met with the ACEs Resilience work group chairs, some key community leaders, and the News & Observer editorial board.
  • Wake County has been recognized nationally, twice within five weeks, for the community work on ACEs that AHA is convening. ACEs Connection writer Carey Sipp shared our collective story; she believes this work a replicable model.
  • Local writer Aleta Payne wrote an op ed piece in the News & Observer on ACEs and the faith community’s role in addressing them. Her church hosted a viewing of Resilience. This is one of the many community screenings that partnering organizations are hosting; AHA is able to lend its copies of the DVD for such events.

This is all a testament to the ownership so many individuals and organizations have taken to advance work to prevent and address ACEs and build resilience. Work groups are meeting, and AHA continues to seek funding to provide greater support to these groups and others asking us for resources. I am awestruck by the incredible expertise, networks, and deep knowledge and skill that so many are bringing to make Wake County an even better place to live.

The Thrive NC Food Summit on food systems and child nutrition held earlier this month in was a huge success. I was honored to moderate a child nutrition panel with guests:

  • Richard Joyner (who keynoted AHA’s Dig In 2 years ago). Rev. Joyner, who founded and runs the Conetoe Family Life Center, leads healthy eating work that gets his whole community growing food, and has driven a huge decrease in ER visits and people dying very young of obesity-related diseases.
  • Cynthia Ervin with NC’s Department of Public Instruction, who leads in the summer food program, bringing on community partners who host and serve subsidized summer meals to kids who need them.
  • Shirley Huang of WakeMed, who focuses her work on pediatric weight management. She’s the only doctor in the region with her specific training and practice, and one of the few in the nation. She and WakeMed partner with municipal Parks and Recreation departments and others to take healthy food behaviors to where kids already are.

The AHA Healthy School Awards tour was earlier this month also (see article).  The winning schools are increasing long-term health for thousands of kids. A team of fourth graders at Hilburn Academy, which won a Sneakers and Spokes Award, began their own walk to school program and tracked the numbers of kids walking vs. the number of cars coming through the car pool lane. One proud student told us, “We’re the ones behind it all.” It was great to meet these students, their teachers and administrators and some parents who are all working together to make healthier choices.

Here’s to a healthy and happy summer; we’re looking forward to our next Partnership Meeting on Sept. 21—save the date!

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