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"Igniting change one bite at a time" - by Alison Hunt

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For the past six years, I have worked as the Marketing and Outreach
Director on a federal government contract for the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health. In this role, it
is my responsibility to ensure effective messaging on both womenshealth.gov and girlshealth.gov.
However, working in tandem with colleagues who have masters degrees in
public health (MPH) has highlighted my limited understanding of how to
evaluate health studies, use statistics accurately, or judge the
viability of programs. Puruing an MPH from George Washington
University's Public Health Communication and Marketing program has
started to give me the tools I need to more strategically design,
implement, and evaluate communications campaigns that will positively
impact the health of communities at the local and national levels.
My primary goal is to work with public school systems to develop and
deliver educational programs that not only identify healthy eating
options, but also integrate green living and organic farming practices.
Children and teens would learn fun ways to grow food, cook it, and
motivate family members to adapt these behaviors as well. After all,
eating healthy is a lifestyle which includes thinking about how the food
we put into our bodies is grown, what it was fed, and how far it
traveled to get to our plates. I would like to address concerns with
the current National School Lunch Program and tap into resources like
local farmers for fresh alternatives. Earning an MPH will help me lead
the marketing of programs that seek to involve, educate, and nourish our
nation's youth.
Childhood obesity is my driving issue. I have witnessed the toll that
social discrimination, poor self-esteem, and depression can take on a
child. As a young teen, I watched as a neighborhood girl was
relentlessly teased in school and later sent to "fat camp," where she
would write letters to my parents (rather than to her own), begging to
be rescued. Part of me wanted to save her myself.I just didn't know
how. Now I do. While I can't go back in time to teach her how to make
healthy lunches and after-school snacks, I can reach out to the
thousands of children and teens who are facing this same humiliation.
That is why my goal of incorporating the principles of green living and
farm-to-table consciousness when designing childhood obesity
intervention programs in schools is so important to me. I believe that
being armed with this knowledge from an early age-through effective
messaging- will not only help stem the epidemic of childhood and teen
obesity, but will also help attach a sense of longevity to what could
otherwise be a fleeting trend. Pursuing a career in public health will
undoubtedly strengthen my ability to ignite behavioral change in the
masses of children who need to be reached on this issue.

Views: 25

Tags: GovLoop-CampusGov Scholarship, communications, project management

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Comment by Kathryn Hambleton on October 19, 2010 at 12:48pm
Great essay Alison, and thanks for giving HHS props!
Comment by Marco Morales on September 10, 2010 at 2:07pm
Alison, part of your communication (singular - not plural) strategy should identify your key target audiences, tie that into your organization's mission, vision, and goals, and then identify what tactics (e.g., events, conferences, meetings, etc.) you can use as opportunities to best get your theme and messages out. Just a couple of suggestions in case you hadn't already planned for this. I believe a lot of children can certainly benefit from an effective communication strategy developed by you and your team.
Comment by R. Ann Abercrombie on September 10, 2010 at 1:53pm
Good luck, Alison! It's a great idea :)
Comment by Jacque (Brown) Myers on September 9, 2010 at 10:15pm
Good luck, Alison. It's a wonderful cause, and your experience in womens health will be extremely valuable!
Comment by Bridget Shea on September 7, 2010 at 11:14am
You have my vote! Good luck with your studies and your research on childhood obesity.
Comment by Anita Arile on September 1, 2010 at 8:00am
I would love to hear more on your research on childhood obesity... it's very close to home for me

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