It’s so easy as practitioners to get caught up in the larger vision of our work. Rightfully so, we want the end result of our collective efforts to empower all young people to live healthy and productive lives.
In doing so, we often miss opportunities to humanize our efforts and ground our work in community truths. These truths tell us that we don’t always have the impact we think we do, and sometimes the pictures we paint are false.
If I were to ask you to close your eyes and picture optimum health, you might envision an oasis of kale smoothies, yoga retreats, and mountain top moments. While this may indeed be what some segments of the population are aiming for, I can tell you it’s not a reality for everyone. The reality is that many children consume more than one sugary drink a day, eat empty calories, and are living a sedentary lifestyle. For some, better health is one less beverage or one less fast food item. That is their win. Our job is to celebrate them and support them in the gradual transition to healthy eating and active living. Our policy campaigns are designed to enable people to make the healthy choice by ensuring that the healthy choice is an option available to them. As a field we should be more realistic in our expectations of the populations we serve. We know how much work goes into each campaign, now imagine how much harder it is to actually live out the tenents of what we are working for.
What this means is that our campaigns, trainings, and materials all need to reflect the movement, not the ideal moments. Movements take time, and movements are built on community truth. The picture of ideal health for that individual or family may not be perfect, but it is part of a larger movement. Trust me, I’m with you. I too want to celebrate our wins and talk about the great work that is happening across the country, but I also want to meet people where they are. If they won’t run the mile with us, I’m willing to walk the few steps with them.
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