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].
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
Do you meet the criteria below? If so, register as a Leader here. There is no cost to be a Leader.
At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
1. Applicant is focused on changing policies and environments
They are working on one of Voices for Healthy Kid's six issue areas:
Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
Expand community access to high quality food
Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
They are working on other obesity-related issues, such as:
Their primary focus is working on individual behavior (e.g., teaching kids about food, play, etc.), but they have access to organizations that could provide opportunities to change environments, such as
Public Health Agencies
Their project is commercial, but contributes positively to changing policies and environments, such as:
2. Applicant is organizing others or contributing to organizing efforts
They are organizing others by:
Providing volunteer opportunities
Building contact lists of supporters to engage in advocacy
They provide support to organizations or leaders doing work changing policies and environments, such as:
They are a leader in a governmental body that may be the target of organizing efforts to change policies and environments, such as a:
Federal or state agency
Mayor or other local executive office
Federal, state, county or local public health department
Federal, state, county or transportation department
Federal, state or local education agency or school board
If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
The Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center is looking for bloggers who can write about issues that matter to our community on a regular basis. If you would like to be considered for this network, please check this box.