Meet Laura King Hahn, the senior program manager for the American Heart Association's new initiative, ANCHOR Partnerships Program. ANCHOR, or Accelerating National Community Health Outcomes through Reinforcing Partnerships, is a community capacity building project funded by the CDC's National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention initiative. The American Heart Association is working in 15 markets around the country to mobilize key stakeholders and partners to protect people from tobacco smoke through smoke-free environment initiatives, improve access to healthy, nutritious food where people live, learn, work, and play, and encourage increased physical activity through shared use agreements and support of physical education in schools. You can connect with Laura through her PreventObestiy.net Leader profile here.
Name: Laura King Hahn
Title: Senior Program Manager
Organization: American Heart Association ANCHOR Partnerships Program
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
I have been working on community based initiatives at the state and local level that focused on heart disease and stroke prevention since 2000. The initiatives that I have worked on have spanned physical activity, nutrition and policy change. As a result, children have always been a key area of focus. What compels me to work in this area is this need to leave things in a better place than where they are today. I really like working on projects that address health disparities and focus on the social determinants of health. For that reason, ANCHOR has been a wonderful fit for me.
What does ANCHOR do?
ANCHOR is bigger than childhood obesity. The initiative focuses on physical activity, nutrition, and smoke free environments. The audience group is not restricted to children.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
The primary goal is to reduce health disparities, and the barriers that contribute, through policy changes. We are doing this through initiatives that involve physical activity, nutrition education, increasing access to healthy foods, encouraging healthy foods and beverages, and by providing access to safe physical activity spaces and opportunities to make healthy choices.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
The biggest accomplishment and benefit of working on the ANCHOR team is leveraging the assets of the community to work on these issues, and to really make a change in the local community. ANCHOR is community driven, and it focuses on using localized strategies that will make a difference. The goal of ANCHOR is to make sure that communities will have policies or systems in place that will make it easier for them to be healthy. I think that the biggest accomplishment is the population wide activities being taken and targeted approaches within communities or populations with greater needs.
Who is your role model in your work?
I have had many role models over the years. In my early career days, there were instrumental public health nurses who looked for persons with high needs and looked for ways to help them with the health of their family, their specific health disparities. Their approach for doing what was right is still very compelling to me, and I try to follow their example.
What game or sport did you play growing up?
I grew up as a runner. I competed in running from elementary on, and did cross country skiing. Running was my go-to exercise. Now, I have changed my interests to paddling on a dragon boat team and cycling.
Each week, our own Amy Stone speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Amy's profile and contact her.