In 1995, former President Bill Clinton proclaimed the first full week of every April National Public Health Week, a national observance intended to highlight awareness efforts in communities across the nation, help improve the understanding of public health and integrate it into national dialogue. APHA serves as its lead organizer and works with government agencies, non-profit organizations, and state and local partners to both build healthier communities and heighten awareness of important public health issues. Through this year’s theme, “A Healthier America Begins Today,” NPHW 2012 will focus on a holistic approach to focus on disease prevention and wellness. Learn more about how you can be involved in this year’s activities from Kimberly Moore, director of Affiliate Affairs at APHA.
Q: The core mission of NPHW has always been to emphasize the essential role communities play in creating a healthier America. Why is it important that the public “join the movement” in building stronger, healthier communities, and what support is APHA offering Americans to take action and get involved this year at the local level.
Health starts at the community level. We need strong communities that support active living, encourage healthy eating and reduce tobacco use. And it’s the collective voice within each community that can make an invaluable change. One small step can lead to tremendous improvements in health if we all participate. A huge goal of the campaign is to recognize the critical role of every American in creating communities that encourage health in all aspects.
Q: Can you describe some of the support materials featured in this year’s NPHW toolkit.
Today’s health statistics overwhelmingly indicate that Americans have to start living healthier today. Every American can take steps — big and small — to improve their health status. The NPHW partner toolkit provides public health professionals, students and advocates with resources and tools that will enable us to support transforming our nation from a sick-care system to one that is focused on prevention and wellness. Download the toolkit- Join the Movement: A Healthier America Begins Today!
The toolkit includes talking points that can help start a conversation with a key policymaker to address the importance of prevention and wellness or to arm a community with actions that can create a healthier place to live. Daily fact sheets are available to assist in planning and highlighting each daily theme. Various resources in the media kit can prove helpful in connecting with reporters to spread the word. From tips for writing op-eds to sample public service announcements, you can answer all of your media outreach questions with the media kit. Planning an event for NPHW? Suggested events are outlined in the event planning section of the toolkit, as well as tips for planning such events. Social media is also a great way to promote NPHW, and APHA encourages its members and partners to join the movement on the NPHW social media channels. Utilize the social media engagement strategies in the toolkit to spread the NPHW message and to highlight your activities. Also, available on the NPHW website, you can download the NPHW 2012 logos and wallpapers to customize your NPHW event.
Q: Do you have any suggestions on how to plan a successful National Public Health Week event?
Become a NPHW partner today and start planning your event. Find event ideas in the NPHW partner toolkit. Host a town hall meeting, a walk-run-bike event or seminar in your community. Your event should address a current public health issue or highlight a successful initiative in the area. For instance, if your city has improved its sidewalks or walking trails, you can plan an event to promote the new healthy addition to the community. If HIV is on the rise in your state, coordinate a town hall meeting with your member of Congress to discuss strategies to mitigate the disease. On or near a college campus? NPHW is a great opportunity to address prominent health issues with students. Celebrate Public Health Student day on April 6, 2012, by recognizing notable accomplishments of a student on your campus.
Don’t forget to plan ahead to secure the location and avoid scheduling conflicts. Schedule a planning meeting with partners to organize and develop the focus of the event. Once confirmed, post your event on the NPHW Calendar of Events. See the event planning section of the NPHW partner toolkit for more details.
Q: What is APHA doing to encourage support of NPHW among colleges and universities?
For a third year in a row, APHA is dedicating the last day to public health student day. On April 6, APHA will emphasize the important role public health students’ play in NPHW and even more in the public health workforce. APHA recently facilitated a special webinar to engage students in NPHW 2012. The webinar provided an overview of the NPHW 2012 resources, suggested ways that students can become engaged in NPHW and shared success stories from students. APHA is planning an event at Morgan State University on Public Health Student Day. This event will feature a forum to highlight Friday’s theme — mental and emotional well-being. APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, along with other notable forum participants, will address mental health, health equity,substance abuse and related topics.
Q: What are some national efforts that APHA is planning to recognize National Public Health Week?
This year, APHA’s Georges Benjamin, along with other APHA leaders and partners, will take NPHW on the road to promote the National Prevention Strategy, a collaborative effort among a wide array of federal agencies and national stakeholders to improve the health of all Americans across the lifespan, which also serves as a centerpiece for this year’s campaign. The National Prevention Road Tour includes stops in Atlanta to celebrate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s 20th anniversary and emphasize the importance of injury and violence prevention, and Denver to celebrate the opening of the Colorado Center for Health and Wellness at the University of Colorado. The center is a state-of-the-art facility that will empower individuals to become active and eat healthy. Don’t forget to join the NPHW Twitter Chat on Monday, April 2, at 1 p.m. via @NPHW or #NPHWChat.
Q: How can other organizations support NPHW?
From starting a walking group in your community to supporting and protecting the Affordable Care Act, everyone can join the movement and create a healthier America today! Your organization can get involved with NPHW by taking small actions, such as writing a blog, following @NPHW on Twitter or writing a letter to the editor for your local paper. Submit your interest to write a NPHW blog to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the media kit for tips to write a letter to the editor.
Create a local movement with big actions! Contact your member of Congress to plan a town hall meeting to discuss the health status in your state. Start a farmers market, a food co-op, a community garden or a canning circle. Collaborate with a local hospital or community health center to provide HIV and STI screenings. Or host a community activity, such as volunteering, that encourages social participation and inclusion for all people, including older people and those with disabilities.