Hamilton County, Ohio

2014

Excerpt from Lessons for Leaders:

The We THRIVE! initiative in Hamilton County supported a broad-based shift from individual-focused public health messages and programs to a healthy community approach that addressed environments, policies and systems (PSE). It helped resident leaders, professionals, elected officials and other stakeholders understand their role and engage in a new movement for change by providing an organizational umbrella, hosting an influential luncheon, conducting educational tours and launching a strategic communications campaign to demonstrate how PSE changes could work for local communities and families.

For more information, read the full story.


July 2014

The vision of Hamilton County Public Health is to support community-based efforts and create healthy, thriving places where residents live, work, worship, learn and play; places where fresh fruits and vegetables are affordable and easy to find, and where children and families have safe spaces to walk, play and be active.

Because Hamilton County is home to 48 political jurisdictions, each with its own decision-making powers, collective action can be difficult to achieve. But on an issue like childhood obesity, “We need all of these important voices,” Bierer continued. “When everyone is pulling in the same direction, that’s what creates enough momentum to make real change and sustain it.”

But making these types of changes requires sustained and coordinated efforts throughout the county, which is why public health joined forces with numerous dedicated partners including the Nutrition Council, YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, Closing the Health Gap, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati Green Umbrella, Our Harvest, Interact for Health, local school districts, area elected officials and fourteen community coalitions. Collectively called WeTHRIVE!, this partnership has started to turn its vision into reality.

“A lot of significant organizations invested in preventing childhood obesity have come to the table to coordinate efforts,” project coordinator Jennifer Bierer said.

Under the leadership of HCPH and WeTHRIVE!, several major funding sources were strategically leveraged to achieve advancements in policy, system and environmental changes in the county. These sources include the Strategic Alliance for Health and Communities Putting Prevention to Work, grants from the Centers for Disease Control, and Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

WeTHRIVE! efforts will continue to be disseminated throughout the county through the provision of training and support of Community Ambassadors who will lead the planning and implementation of healthy eating and physical activity policy, systems and environmental strategies tailored to meet the needs of their respective communities.

“Community engagement at all levels is key to the success of this very important work,” Bierer said. “Together we can create and support sustainable changes that have a positive impact in the community for years to come.”

Key accomplishments:

  • Seventy-nine child care centers in 42 communities and Cincinnati neighborhoods adopted WeTHRIVE! Child Care Wellness Resolutions, providing nearly 8,000 children with more opportunities for physical activity and healthy food and beverage choices.
  • Twenty two shared-use agreements were secured to increase access to physical activity and healthy eating opportunities. Overall, ten schools, two churches, three departments of parks and recreation, and three private entities signed shared use agreements.
  • Seven schools in underserved and high risk population areas implemented Safe Routes to School programs, and 51 schools (including 48 Cincinnati Public School campuses) were funded in the amount of $714,293 by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to establish SRTS Policies Regarding Pedestrian and Bicycle Accommodation on School Campuses.
  • Fifteen communities throughout the county are revitalizing and/or building parks and play areas.

For more information, view a short film about their work.