JUNE–SEPTEMBER 2009 NEWSLETTER
This newsletter covers the following topics:
On behalf of myself and everyone in CDC’s Healthy Communities Program, I extend my heartfelt thanks for your dedication to the Steps Cooperative Agreement Program. I consider each of you, the 40 Steps communities, as pioneers in turning back the tide of chronic disease during a critical time in history. Since 2003, you have worked to reverse chronic disease trends in many different settings across the nation, including small cities and rural communities, large cities and urban communities, and tribes and tribal entities; formed partnerships with traditional and nontraditional partners to extend the reach of Steps activities; accelerated progress toward achieving better health outcomes; and worked across multiple sectors and disease risk factors to bring about change in your communities.
And along the way, we evolved. Through Steps, we began to see firsthand the impact of chronic diseases in communities following a century of profound cultural changes in how we lived. We also recognized the urgent need to address chronic disease beyond the individual level. Through your work in communities, you showed us that to have the greatest success in reducing chronic disease rates, we needed to promote significant shifts in cultural norms through policy, systems, and environmental changes.
Also along the way, we were honored to meet people like Steps Heroes Alan Wilmarth and Marcella Morton, whose deeply moving tributes to Alan's grandfather and Marcella's best friend, respectively, brought us all to tears and reminded us why we are in public health. There is no greater tribute I can give to each of you than to affirm that you made a difference by embodying the very changes you wished to see in the world.
Alyssa Easton, PhD, MPH
Recognizing that the June–September issue is the final Steps newsletter, we’d like to invite readers to visit CDC’s Healthy Communities Program newsletters for news in the future. They provide periodic highlights of program activities, written for (and sometimes by) the program's funded communities and partners. The newsletters also reach divisions of CDC, state and local health departments, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and other communities and organizations interested in chronic disease prevention and health promotion at the local level. Because Steps is a part of the Healthy Communities Program, this transition will enable Steps communities to continue to promote their successes in a larger publication.
Four Steps Community Heroes were selected in 2009. Kathy Boeckman and Bernard Turner are acknowledged in this issue, and Ann Brown and Karen Pesce were spotlighted in the January–May 2009 Steps Newsletter.
Kathy Boeckman has been a key partner and contributor since the inception of Santa Clara County Steps in 2004. Kathy knows firsthand that creating healthy school environments is critical to the success of students in the classroom. She is a quiet force, working tirelessly behind the scenes to help students, parents, the faculty, and community members work together to improve the health for all, and it is her passion and dedication that have resulted in positive change!
Kathy has been the Steps School Health Liaison for the largest school district in San Jose, comprising 53 schools and almost 31,000 students. Since the beginning, Kathy has dedicated herself to working with students and teachers in the classroom, providing training for teachers and administrators, and serving in a leadership role on several school- and community-based collaborations. In trying to make a lasting change in her school district, Kathy embraced the value and importance of CDC’s School Health Index (SHI) tool, and she implemented its use at 39 of the 40 traditional schools within the district. This was no small feat. She knew in her heart that if she was to create healthy campuses across the district, she needed to convince decision makers that coordinated school health programs really work. The SHI results confirmed what she knew: that student test scores were better in those schools that had coordinated school health programs or activities. School board members and administrators were convinced by these outcomes.
This is a wonderful example of Kathy’s perseverance and how it paid off. There is now a District School Health Council as well as School Health Leadership Teams on every campus. Health and safety education is being delivered, and despite tight fiscal times, every school has a full-time nurse dedicated to student health. Kathy’s commitment to Steps has helped more than 31,000 students and their families live healthier lives. She is truly a Steps Hero!
Bernard Turner became ill with a respiratory illness about 8 years ago, while teaching classes at upscale workout clubs in downtown Minneapolis. Not one to give up easily, he used his fitness routine to help him manage and improve his chronic condition. The experience of changing from a person who personified health and wellness to one who fell ill and then learned to use fitness to manage his illness has been transformational to Bernard. As he put it, “fitness became my ministry.”
Today, Bernard teaches fitness classes for community-based organizations in south Minneapolis’ low-income communities of color. Most notably, he teaches classes at a community fitness center that cannot afford to pay him. Although Bernard could now easily obtain a well-paying fitness position, he prefers to provide his services free of charge when needed, offering one of the few such fitness opportunities in this community. He also does television appearances and radio interviews on behalf of Steps and makes presentations in the community, inspiring and motivating others to live a healthier lifestyle.
Bernard Turner is a “great ambassador for fitness and for Steps,” exclaimed the Minneapolis Steps program coordinator. Bernard is currently working on a master’s degree in business with the goal of launching a chain of fitness centers specifically for people living with chronic conditions.
Five Steps communities were spotlighted in the Society for Public Health Education’s (SOPHE) April 2009 Health Promotion Practice journal – Fostering Healthy Communities: Lessons Learned from CDC's Premier Community-Based Interventions*. The journal articles provide stellar examples from several of CDC’s Steps communities, where local action is taking place to prevent chronic diseases and achieve health equity.
The April 2009 issue of CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy journal included an editorial written by the Director of CDC’s Healthy Communities Program, entitled Public-Private Partnerships and Public Health Practice in the 21st Century: Looking Back at the Experience of the Steps Program, and the following two Steps community case studies featuring the importance of public-private partnerships:
In the interest of the health of Monterey County residents and employees who work in or visit county facilities, the Salinas–Monterey County Steps* community partnered with the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to adopt a healthy foods policy for vending machines and vending service consolidation within Monterey County. The policy encompasses changes in four areas: Placement of Vending Machines, Facility Requirements, Food and Beverage Operations, and Nutrition Standards for Vending Machine Beverages and Snacks. Adopted nutrition standards ensure that healthier vending food options are also made available, and all county vending machines must meet National Automatic Merchandising Association standards for construction and sanitation. Salinas–Monterey County Steps based their policy recommendations on Contra Costa County, California's vending machine guidelines*, which had been adopted a few years earlier. The two counties are now collaborating to develop vending machine best practices to share with surrounding counties.
CDC contracted with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to develop a compendium highlighting successful Steps community interventions. To better understand successful strategies for addressing chronic disease prevention, NACCHO conducted in-depth telephone interviews with 15 Steps communities. NACCHO used the information gathered from these interviews to develop comprehensive case studies.
Building Healthy Communities: Lessons Learned from CDC’s Steps Program* highlights 15 successful interventions and represents diverse geographic profiles and settings (schools, work sites, communities, and health care settings). Each case study includes descriptions of the community dynamics, specific chronic disease interventions, elements for success, collaborations, challenges, and future plans. Each case study also focuses on a particular intervention or a unique component that has made the approaches used by the Steps communities so successful. These highlighted interventions represent but one component of a larger set of strategies for addressing chronic disease prevention that are implemented in schools, work sites, communities, and health care settings.
Working in close collaboration with 11 influential policy-making organizations, Leadership for Healthy Communities developed the Action Strategies for Healthy Communities Tool Kit* to equip state, municipal, county, and school leaders with promising and evidence-based policy approaches designed to improve children’s health and reduce childhood obesity. This comprehensive resource includes strategies in 10 policy areas, lists of key stakeholders, tips on how to start programs, and examples of policies that states and communities have implemented successfully. It is prefaced with an unequivocal leadership statement signed by executive directors from each of the 11 participating policy-making organizations. This statement underscores the organizations’ recognition that childhood obesity is a national problem and reflects their commitment to work collaboratively across levels of government to build healthier communities.
Leadership for Healthy Communities, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, works to support local and state leaders nationwide in their efforts to promote healthy, active communities and improve access to affordable, healthy foods.
*Links to non-Federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. The CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at this link.
Page last reviewed: October 20, 2009
Page last modified: October 20, 2009
Content source: Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion