The Goal for AHL
Advancing Healthy Lifestyles (AHL) is part of the Division of Public Health’s Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity Prevention (PANO) Program. AHL’s goal is to reduce adult and childhood obesity, along with other chronic conditions, to achieve long-term health equity for schools, communities, and workplaces throughout Delaware.Healthy Lifestyles Subcommittee Policy Recommendations, January 2021
We are accomplishing this by addressing:
- The policies, systems, and environments that impact the social determinants of health (SDoH)
- The health inequities that communities experience
- A shared agenda and narrative developed and adopted, together
PANO Action Plan Development
AHL spearheaded the development of a statewide action plan to implement the recommendations of the Delaware Cancer Consortium’s Cancer Risk Reduction Committee’s Healthy Lifestyles Subcommittee (HLSC). In January 2021, the HLSC released a series of policy recommendations that focused on improving health in three key areas: (1) children ages 0 to 18, (2) worksite wellness, and (3) community-level policies. The action plan translates the HLSC’s recommendations into specific strategies.
To develop the action plan, a survey was distributed to various community partners, including service providers, advocacy organizations, and state and local entities throughout Delaware, to gather input on the HLSC’s recommendations. Building on the survey, a series of focus group discussions using the World Café format took place. More than 50 community partners attended, commenting on each of the HLSC’s recommendations. After the conclusion of the World Café series, Advancing Healthy Lifestyles held several interviews with state agency leaders.
The action plan proposes practical strategies to address the HLSC’s recommendations and identifies the state agency or program that should implement the recommendations, based on the information collected through the survey, focus group discussions, and interviews with state agency leaders. The final action plan provides guidance for next steps to implement each HLSC recommendation.
School Health and Wellness
Comprehensive school health and wellness incorporates physical activity, nutrition, and obesity prevention — all addressed through a variety of measures. These measures include school educational planning, such as supporting curricula and instruction for students in pre-K through grade 12 that will address a variety of important health topics.
To improve health and wellness of school-age students in Delaware, AHL has launched an innovative school-community partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware and a select number of schools in Delaware. Participating schools and Boys & Girls Club teams will implement the Triple Play model, a healthy lifestyle program that offers participants more than 200 activities focused on mind, body, and soul. Triple Play seeks to improve students’ knowledge of healthy habits related to nutrition and physical fitness, increase students’ participation in physical activity, and strengthen students’ skills for engaging in healthy relationships. AHL will pilot Triple Play in three urban and rural locations in Delaware in 2022. The demonstration should yield important lessons about successful school-community partnerships, as well as a model that may be scaled to other sites across Delaware.
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Community Capacity Building
Engaging community partners is key to long-term, sustainable health and wellness outcomes. In 2021, AHL supported and strengthened the capacity of three community partners: American Lung Association, University of Delaware–Cooperative Extension, and Delaware State University. These partners received financial support to implement their health promotion models, as well as intensive technical assistance to support planning, implementation, and evaluation of their programs. So far, the community partners have developed an action plan, a theory of change, and a plan for data collection and reporting.
There were three community-based interventions in the planning and implementation stages in 2021.
- The American Lung Association is implementing staff and student training and supporting policy changes in schools that promote lung health and physical activity among students with asthma.
- The University of Delaware–Cooperative Extension is implementing a program that connects food producers, retailers, and communities to expand access to healthy foods.
- Delaware State University is implementing a physical activity program for children with developmental disabilities, paired with a nutrition education program for their parents.
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Bienestar en el lugar de trabajo
Healthier employees relate directly to better-functioning state agencies. AHL is actively promoting health equity and workplace wellness initiatives for Delaware state employees, with the goal of positively influencing workplace culture and policies as well as encouraging state employees to improve their health.
In line with this work, AHL is leading the development and implementation of a Workplace Wellness Policy for the state of Delaware’s executive branch agencies. The Workplace Wellness Policy will support the organizational capacity and implementation of health promotion activities by executive branch agencies and departments. Health topics addressed by the policy include healthy eating, physical activity, mental wellness, and lactation support, among several others. AHL is also developing a toolkit to support the implementation of individual workplace wellness initiatives. A workgroup with representatives from 18 state agencies, along with staff from the CDC Workplace Health Program, provided input to develop the policy and toolkit. The state aims to implement the Workplace Wellness Policy in 2022.
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HealthyDelaware.org offers a free toolkit of downloadable materials that promote workplace wellness and healthier habits among employees. Use these evidence-based tools to help build morale, increase physical activity, and reduce employee absenteeism — while also reducing health care costs.
World Café: Engagement for Policy Recommendations
PANO hosted three World Café events in May 2021, attended by over 50 people in total. Participants from agencies and organizations related to AHL commented on each of the recommendations developed by the Cancer Risk Reduction Committee’s Healthy Lifestyle Subcommittee (HLSC). The participants’ comments and guidance will contribute to the action plan for the HLSC recommendations, which will be complete in July 2022.
AHL Learning Series
These seminar-style webinars, presented live in 2021, are now available for download. The AHL Learning Series supports organizations’ capacity building in key programs or services related to PANO priorities, focusing on evidence-based approaches.
Promoting Equity in Nutrition Security: How the Social Determinants of Health Affect Healthy Eating
Presented by Angela Odoms-Young, PhD, who is an associate professor and the director of NOHER Research Lab at the University of Illinois Chicago, and the associate director of research and education, Office of Community Engagement and Health Partnerships. Dr. Odoms-Young’s research focuses on the social and structural determinants of dietary behaviors and related health outcomes in low-income and Black/Latinx populations, and culturally appropriate programs and policies that promote health equity, food justice, and community resilience.
Valuing Voice in Advancing Healthy Lifestyles: The Community as the Expert Resource
Presented by Mary Kane, who is the president and principal consultant of Concept Systems, Inc., an external contractor working closely with the AHL team. Since 2002, Ms. Kane has worked on strategic planning, communication and promotion planning, and program assessment in public health for Delaware and other state, national, and international programs. Since 2014, she has presented nationally and in Europe on Valuing Voice, emphasizing the SDoH and having a voice in public health planning and decision-making.
The 24-Hour Activity Cycle and How It Affects Our Health: Strategies for the COVID Experience and Beyond
Presented by Lee Stoner, PhD, director of the UNC Cardiometabolic Lab. Dr. Stoner has expertise in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and public health. His research includes investigating associations between lifestyle factors and cardiometabolic risk in children, developing simple strategies for offsetting sedentary behavior and improving cardiometabolic health, and looking at socio-ecological determinants of cardiometabolic disease prevention in underserved populations. Recent publications include those focusing on children, screen time, and the effects of COVID.
Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle: A Focus on Heart Disease
Presented by Aisha Tucker-Brown, PhD, MSW. Dr. Tucker-Brown is the senior evaluator in the CDC’s Applied Research and Evaluation Branch, Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention. She has led CDC projects on evaluability assessment, rigorous effectiveness evaluations, enhanced evaluability assessments of public health programs, and scaling and spreading effective public health programs. She is currently working on the dissemination of a hypertension management toolkit for health care providers and the development of SDoH performance measures for chronic disease.
- Culture of Health and How It Can Inform Small Agencies’ Work
- Evaluation Practices That Fit Your Organization
- What Advancing Healthy Lifestyles Looks Like for the Aging Population: Corazón
- Activity, Including Physical Activity, and COVID Behaviors: Simple Strategies to Improve a Child’s Daily Health