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Trainings Help Advocates Develop Campaign Skills


More than 250 childhood obesity advocates in seven cities across the country recently took part in trainings to boost their ability to engage with grassroots supporters and gain the skills necessary to successfully implement public policy campaigns.

Led by staff from the Voices for Healthy Kids®, an initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic, the regional advocacy trainings offered advocates an opportunity to build and enhance critical foundational skills to run impactful campaigns.

Staff also provided a detailed look at the Voices for Healthy Kids initiative, including resources and funding opportunities tied to its six policy levers: Improving the nutritional quality of school snacks and drinks; reducing sugary drink consumption; protecting children from unhealthy food marketing; increasing access to healthy, affordable food; increasing access to safe spaces for physical activity; and helping schools and youth programs increase kids’ physical activity levels.

Voices for Healthy Kids staff worked alongside consultants at the firm M+R to help participants learn to identify and act upon opportunities to engage in advocacy work using M+R’s “Power Prism” tool. This resource centers on six “power tools” of advocacy, including research and data collection; coalition building and maintenance; grassroots and key contacts; media advocacy; decision-maker advocacy; and fundraising and development.

During the training, participants broke into state campaign teams and used their newly developed skills to create strategic campaign plans. Many of these plans have since been funded by Voices for Healthy Kids or are in the process of being submitted for funding review.

In addition to Voices for Healthy Kids staff, representatives from organizations such as the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, Pew Charitable Trust, Berkeley Media Studies Group, The Food Trust and YMCA of the USA were on-hand to provide campaign guidance. Experts also led sessions on the basic rules of lobbying and ways to build diverse partnerships and collaboration in public policy campaigns.

Members of Voices for Healthy Kids’ Field Consultation Team work as regional campaign managers across the country, providing direct technical assistance, training and support to Voices for Healthy Kids grantees. They also help build relationships in states with partners who are interested in implementing public policy campaigns that line up with Voices’ policy levers.

The trainings were held in Minneapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Baltimore; Atlanta; Westchester, N.Y.; Denver and Los Angeles.

For information on future regional advocacy trainings, contact senior manager Debbie Hornor at [email protected].