By Erica Bryson, Health in All Policies Coordinator, Allegheny County Health Department
The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) recently adopted a Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach to advance its countywide health strategy, Live Well Allegheny. By using HiAP to inform this initiative, ACHD hopes to achieve its overarching goal of improving health outcomes for Allegheny County’s 1.2 million residents spread across its 130 municipalities in southwestern Pennsylvania.
ACHD in partnership with the County Executive and Board of Health, created the Live Well Allegheny (LWA) campaign to focus on reducing chronic disease. Designed as a collaborative effort engaging diverse community stakeholders, partners, and residents, the campaign intends for all 130 County municipalities, the 90 neighborhoods in the City of Pittsburgh, and 43 school districts to voluntarily become designated as “Live Well” members. In order to become a participating Live Well member a community, school district, workplace, restaurant, or community partner commits to a minimum criteria of evidence-based practices. Live Well participants are also encouraged to share information about upcoming wellness activities, preventative care screenings, healthy cooking demonstrations, tips on stress management, and other activities geared to residents of all ages.
After the campaign’s launch, ACHD received grant funding to create a HiAP Coordinator position for the Chronic Disease Prevention Program. Under the Live Well Allegheny umbrella, the coordinator’s role is to introduce the HiAP approach and provide technical assistance for implementation to Live Well organizations. As a platform to achieve this goal, the Live Well Learning Collaborative was created. The goals for the Learning Collaborative are to:
- Develop a collective and innovative co-learning environment for the LWA community to facilitate the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices that will impact health;
- Convene public health organizations, communities, restaurants, schools, and workplaces to create an engaged and empowered work force committed to increasing physical activity, decreasing smoking, and increasing healthy eating; and
- Provide up-to-date information for communities, schools, restaurants, and workplaces to support their incorporation of health and well-being in policies and practices.
On January 10, 2017, the Live Well Learning Collaborative kicked off with an in-person meeting open to all Live Well Allegheny members and partners. The Live Well Learning Collaborative convened participants and shared the “what, where, why, and how” of implementing health initiatives. A total of 85 participants, representing 47 different Live Well Allegheny partners, attended. Their purpose was to 1) discuss Health in All Policies and learn how to apply it to different organizations; 2) showcase Live Well Allegheny partner initiatives; and 3) encourage participants to identify future action steps for their organizations.
There were three different sessions during the Live Well Learning Collaborative kickoff meeting. During the first session, attendees engaged in a presentation from the ACHD Director, Dr. Karen Hacker and staff members about applying a Health in All Policies approach to their organization. They also heard from Chris “Steel” Edmonds from the Athletic Trauma Unit about his journey to health as a former NFL player. In the second Session, participants had an opportunity to learn from other Live Well Allegheny members that have collaborated to successfully implement health initiatives. Lastly, participants had an opportunity to think about the future of Live Well Allegheny during the third and final session. Working in small groups, participants completed activities to provide feedback about priorities for the Learning Collaborative and brainstormed new ways to reach our goal of becoming the healthiest county in the United States. Overarching themes were compiled from the various interactive activities held throughout the event, and can be accessed online at this link. Overall, the kickoff was a great success, serving as an effective platform for meaningful engagement and information exchange for both Live Well members and ACHD staff.
LWA offers a network for community partners to share both barriers and successful health interventions as well as explore potential collaborative efforts. By introducing the HiAP approach and launching the Learning Collaborative, ACHD hopes to continue building capacity for Live Well Allegheny members. More specifically, the Learning Collaborative will serve as a support network connecting each member with ongoing technical assistance as well as updates on grant opportunities, evidence-based practices and other valuable resources. Ultimately, the empowerment of LWA members will generate greater collective impact and better health outcomes across Allegheny County.
For more information about Health in All Policies and the Live Well Allegheny campaign, please contact Hannah Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Allegheny County Health Department website.