When Gov. Asa Hutchinson launched the Healthy Active Arkansas plan from the State Capitol on Oct. 14, I was in the back of the room. Behind all of the media. As various reporters asked their questions about the plan, which was designed to promote healthier lifestyles among all Arkansans, I tried to put myself in their shoes.
The Institute - along with other groups like the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health - has been actively involved in the creation and dissemination of the plan for several years now, so I’ve had a front-row seat to the development of each focus area, each recommendation, each statistic. But if I was being introduced to the plan with no prior context, how would I digest all of the information it holds?
The truth is, it’d be difficult to wrap my mind around it just by sitting and reading through the plan. The Arkansas Department of Health understands that. And they’re doing something about it.
From 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Feb. 4, ADH is hosting an orientation meeting designed to give fuller explanations of each of Healthy Active Arkansas’ nine focus areas. Those focus areas are:
- Physical and built environment
- Nutritional standards in government, institutions and the private sector
- Nutritional standards in schools – early child care through college
- Physical education and activity in schools – early child care through college
- Healthy worksites
- Access to healthy foods
- Sugar-sweetened beverage reduction
- Marketing program
The orientation meeting is open to all who are interested in learning more about the plan, especially those who are looking for ways to get involved in helping meet the plan’s two-, five- and 10-year goals.
To reserve a seat (it’s free), email Marisha DiCarlo, director of the Office of Health Communications for ADH, at Marisha.DiCarlo@arkansas.gov. The meeting will take place in the Health Department’s auditorium, located at their headquarters at 4815 W. Markham St. in Little Rock.
Since we launched the plan back in October, project leads have been identified for each of the nine focus areas. At the orientation meeting, these individuals (including me, talking about the marketing program) will each speak briefly about their specific area, their immediate goals and how others can get involved.
There’s a lot at stake here. It’s no secret that Arkansas ranks near the bottom when the states are assessed for health care outcomes. In 2014, we had the highest rate of adult obesity, and we don’t fare too well on things like diabetes and hypertension, either.
Healthy Active Arkansas is a blueprint for how we can start changing those trends. That means saving lives. It means adding quality of life to people who currently have no hope. It means kids performing better in schools and employees performing better at work (healthy people = better students and more productive workforce). It means making our state a better place to live, which in turn will attract more business here, creating more and better opportunities for Arkansans.
So I invite you to join me on Feb. 4 at the Health Department. I’d encourage you to brush up on the Healthy Active Arkansas plan before you come. You can download a free copy at www.healthyactive.org.