Health Reform Rapid Response: the conversation on prevention
Broadcasting your community’s successes helps our policymakers understand that community prevention works. And when our local elected officials truly understand the power of prevention, they can effectively leverage their political capital and leadership to champion and advance community prevention initiatives. Our local leaders are partners in this movement, and we hope this week’s examples of local politicians speaking up for community prevention will inspire you to reach out, partner, and jointly pen an opinion piece with your local elected officials highlighting your prevention successes.
What Success Looks Like
- In the Sacramento Press, “Councilman gives Oak Park residents free gardens,” City Councilman Jay Schenirer underscores that his city’s community prevention efforts around food access are “a win-win-win situation because the families get to learn and teach their children where their food comes from, they get low-cost, healthy food and it cleans up vacant lots.’”
- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg credits the city’s “coordinated, sustained action” to reshape the food environment for the marked improvements in child health in the New York Times, “Obesity Rate Falls for New York Schoolchildren.”
- In Roll Call, “‘Safe Routes to School’ keep children fit,” Tulsa City Councilwoman Karen Gilbert partners with Oklahoma state representative Seneca Scott to throw their support behind community prevention efforts focused on physical activity, explaining that “As policymakers, we understand that our decisions can have an effect on the opportunities people have to eat healthy foods and be physically active within our communities.”
- In The Tennessean, Governor Bill Haslam makes the economic case for community prevention and stands up for the government’s role in ensuring the health of all its residents: “‘We as a state must encourage healthy behaviors and make available healthy foods and safe, accessible places to exercise…As governor, one of my jobs is to address the big problems…It affects our economy, and it affects our state budget…As employers look at where they are going to locate, increasingly the health and wellness of a population is a factor in their decision.”
Tips to Guide your Conversation
Prevention Institute has developed an entire range of communications tools and resources to help you frame your community prevention successes, including a sample op-ed. Your local elected officials are particularly well-suited to deliver these critical messages that we need to promote in the media:
- Community prevention is local.
- Our communities know what’s wrong, and when we work together, we can make it right. The good news is we can fix many of the health problems we face, and prevent other problems from starting. When we work together—our public health department, cities, schools, businesses, and community-based organizations—we can overcome even the most tenacious problems. We have skilled, creative and dedicated people who can make our region the best it can be.
- Government has a role in public health.
- From child safety seats to taking the lead out of paint, our government has a long, proud history of protecting the health of our children, families and communities. Today, in our community, we want children and parents to take for granted that the places they live, work, play, and learn are going to support them in healthy eating, tobacco-free environments and physical activity—not make it harder.
- Prevention is good for business.
- Community prevention is building our neighborhood infrastructure and the local economy; bike paths, pedestrian walkways and smart public transit make it easier and faster to shop at local businesses. Local business owners are getting equipment upgrades and publicity for their stores and products.
- A healthy community, where people can access healthy foods and safe places to be physically active, is good for business. Businesses spend $73 billion dollars a year on chronic diseases that these kinds of efforts can prevent. Our local businesses are going to save money on healthcare costs, lost work days and medical claims when their workforce is healthier.
What you can do